Tri-County superintendent charged with DWI on school grounds
Tri-County superintendent charged with DWI on school grounds

The Tri-County School superintendent has been charged after he was allegedly found drunk behind the wheel of a school van on district property.

Michael Gadbois, 55, Karlstad, has been charged with second-degree DWI, open bottle, and possession of alcohol on school grounds. He was arrested.

The Tri-County School District has issued a statement through its attorney, Katharine M. Saphner. The statement read, “Effective September 28, 2021, Superintendent Gadbois has been placed on paid suspension related to allegations the School Board recently learned of. Due to data privacy constraints, that is all the information we can provide related to this matter at this time. “Although this was unexpected, the School Board knows we have a great staff, wonderful students, and understanding parents that are capable of handling this situation with patience and grace. The School Board is working hard to minimize interruptions due to this situation and hopes to share an update soon. In the meantime, Lori Zick will be the administrator on site.”

The charges stemmed from an incident on the evening of Saturday, Sept. 25, according to the complaint. A Kittson County sheriff’s deputy observed a Tri-County school van parked in front of the school. The rear hatch was open, and he observed what appeared to be several cases of soda outside of the van in the parking lot. The school was open and lights were visible inside. He assumed someone was unloading supplies at the school. About half an hour later, the deputy returned and allegedly observed Gadbois behind the steering wheel. His head was resting between the steering wheel and door. Upon checking to see if Gadbois was suffering from medical distress, the deputy observed that Gadbois had bloodshot, watery eyes. He also smelled strongly like alcohol.

Gadbois moved slowly, grabbed the wrong knob when attempting to turn down the radio, and presented another card instead of his driver’s license. The deputy soon administered field sobriety tests, but they were stopped when it was determined Gadbois was too intoxicated to keep his balance and began falling backward.

A preliminary breath test had a result of 0.21. The head custodian was asked to secure the van. He allegedly later told the deputy that he found a “half full” bottle of vodka in the driver’s door. It was found under a plastic bag.

The complaint indicated that Gadbois had two prior DWIs in the past 10 years – one in January 2015 and one in January 2017. Both were in Alaska.

A review of Gadbois’ Minnesota record also showed he has a 1988 conviction for a charge of DWI within the prior five years in Winona County.