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A northwestern Minnesota school superintendent is accused of being drunk while behind the wheel of a school minivan on school property.

Michael Rene Gadbois, 55, is the superintendent of Tri-County Schools in Karlstad. He is charged with gross misdemeanor second-degree DWI, as well as open bottle and possessing alcohol on school grounds, which are both misdemeanors. 

Gadbois' blood alcohol content was more than twice the legal limit a half-hour after he was found with his head resting between the steering wheel and door of a school minivan, which was parked outside the school building the night of Sept. 25, according to court documents. 

The Tri-County School Board on Tuesday placed Gadbois on paid suspension, according to a statement from the board provided to Bring Me The News by the district's attorney, Katharine Saphner. 

"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 statement said. "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."

Gadbois was released from jail on Monday after posting $12,000 bail, the Grand Forks Herald reports

The charges

According to the criminal complaint, a Kittson County Sheriff's Office deputy on routine patrol on Saturday, Sept. 25, found Gadbois sitting in the driver's seat of a school minivan that was parked outside the school. 

Gadbois was resting his head between the steering wheel and door, and when the deputy approached, he noticed the superintendent's eyes were bloodshot and watery and he smelled a "very strong odor" of alcohol, the charges state. 

When the deputy asked Gadbois to identify himself, he "began to mumble and started feeling around in his pockets and his shirt," charges said. The deputy asked the superintendent again who he was but he didn't respond. 

The deputy asked Gadbois to show his driver's license and Gadbois "began to look around in the front of the van," charges said, with the deputy noting his "movements were very slow as he opened the center console and again checked his pockets," the complaint said.

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Gadbois was told to get out of the vehicle and the deputy patted him down, spotting the wallet in the driver's door pocket, charges state. The deputy asked Gadbois to hand him his license and Gadbois first handed him a store credit card before pulling out his driver's license and two other cards, which fell to the ground. 

As the deputy was starting the field sobriety test, Gadbois "started to fall backwards into the driver's door as he was too intoxicated to keep his balance," the complaint said. 

Gadbois was taken to the Kittson County Sheriff's Office at about 9:20 p.m., where a blood alcohol test at 9:50 p.m. showed he had a blood alcohol content of 0.21, which is over twice the legal limit of 0.08, the complaint states.  

About 30 minutes before the deputy found Gadbois in the vehicle, he saw the rear hatch of the van open and what looked like several cases of soda on the ground nearby. Music was playing in the van and the school door was open and lights were on inside the building, charges said. The deputy, at that point, believed someone was unloading supplies from the van. He returned later to find Gadbois behind the wheel.

The next day, a Tri-County Schools employee who was instructed to secure the van found a half-full bottle of vodka in the driver's door.

Gadbois has two prior DWIs, dating back to 2017 and 2015, both in Alaska.

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