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Former PAUSD substitute arrested for alleged robbery, firearm possession in classroom

Former Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD) substitute teacher, Charles Ha So, was arrested on Wednesday, Aug. 29 at Chaboya Middle School in San Jose, Calif., and now faces charges for robbery and possession of a firearm at a school. After months of investigating, police finally tied So to a road rage incident. The initial disturbance took place on Feb. 1 in San Jose when So allegedly assaulted another man and stole the man’s cell phone before leaving the scene.

As police searched the classroom of the 35-year-old full-time Chaboya Middle School teacher to collect his personal belongings after his arrest, they found a loaded handgun in a satchel, which was in the classroom, according to the San Francisco Chronicle. The gun is registered in So’s name, according to Sgt. Enrique Garcia in a Mercury News article.

The Mercury News article stated that “it wasn’t immediately clear why So had a firearm on school property, but Garcia said, ‘there is no indication at this time that he was going to use that handgun against staff or students.’”

So subbed for PAUSD a total of eight times in the 2017-2018 school year: four days at Henry M. Gunn High School, three days at Paly, and one day at Walter Hays Elementary School.

Assistant Superintendent Karen Hendricks, who works in Human Resources, sent out a statement on Aug. 30 at 4 p.m. to inform PAUSD families of the occurrence. Hendricks’ message failed to include the fact that police found a loaded gun in So’s classroom; however, an article by the San Francisco Chronicle, published on Aug. 30 at 2:45 p.m.—a couple hours before Hendricks’ email—mentioned the gun.

We are notifying parents and staff at those schools that there were never any reported concerns about his performance in our classrooms. Safety is a very high priority in our school district and we make sure that we screen all personnel before they are added to our substitute teacher list. Mr. So passed all required background checks.

Karen Hendricks in the email

The investigation of the road rage incident lead police to Chaboya Middle School, where they arrested So. Police waited until after students were finished for the day, so as not to cause a commotion, according to the Mercury News.

According to the Mercury News, “a recent hire who passed [So’s] background check [at Chaboya Middle School] on Aug. 18, has been placed on administrative leave.”

More updates will be added in print when Hendricks and others can be reached.

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