Thom Pertler, Carlton County attorney, quits teaching gig after showing up to class drunk

Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler resigned his adjunct teaching job at the Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College because he showed up to class three sheets to the wind.

February 27 was the first day of a law enforcement class Pertler teaches about Minnesota statutes. The class began at 6 p.m., two hours after Pertler wrapped up his duties at the county courthouse.

During those two hours, Pertler met up with a friend from the Twin Cities in Duluth for some drinks. Pertler says the two ended up splitting two pitchers of beer, after which he drove to the community college's Cloquet campus. Those beers, combined with pain meds he was taking for an injured shoulder, were apparently all it took to leave Pertler in no condition to function in front of a classroom.

Pertler, 47, told the Duluth News Tribune that during the February 27 class, "things weren't clicking and I realized that."

"After a period of time, I said, 'we'll come back next week,'" he said, adding that he didn't know whether he was slurring his words but recalled having a stomach ache and jumbled thoughts during the class. A student ended up giving him a ride home.

It must've been an ugly scene in that classroom: The community college ended up filing a complaint against Pertler, though no disciplinary action was taken. After more than a decade teaching at Fond du Lac, Pertler resigned his adjunct gig without ever teaching another class.

He's taking accountability for trying to teach while drunk:

A couple of these and some pain meds were the downfall of Pertler's teaching career.
A couple of these and some pain meds were the downfall of Pertler's teaching career.

Anybody who says they don't make mistakes, they're just telling you a bunch of B.S. I think a person, in my opinion, is better off by owning up to your stuff. ... The thing I'd like to try to convey is that in both my professional and personal life, I try to do things right and the bottom line is that if something is up and you know that I'm the person at the helm I'm going to take responsibility, or take credit, if credit is due. I knew what I had to do.

One Carlton County blog suggests there's more to the story than Pertler is revealing. He was on pain meds because of a shoulder injury suffered during a car accident in November. Following the wreck, the driver of the other vehicle brought a conciliation court suit against Pertler, alleging he was responsible. In light of the February 27 incident, rumors began swirling that Pertler may have been drinking before his November accident, but he denies that he has a drinking or chemical dependency problem.

"If you want to come pay me a visit any time day or night and bring a PBT [Preliminary Breath Test], have at it," he told the Tribune. "Seriously, if you want to pay me a visit ... bring it on, bring it on. I'm just being honest with you."

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