Updated, 3 a.m. Oct. 27: Comment from Sherelle Harris.
NORWALK, Conn. — Norwalk Board of Education member Yvel Crevecoeur has resigned.
“It has been an honor to serve the students, parents, and the greater Norwalk community. Unfortunately, circumstances require that I make adjustments in my life to improve my health,” Crevecoeur wrote in a Thursday letter to Town Clerk Rick McQuaid.
The resignation is effective immediately, according to his letter.
“Yvel has indicated he is resigning for health reasons,” Mayor Harry Rilling said in an email.
McQuaid said it’s official; he has a signed copy of Crevecoeur’s letter. The paperwork will be completed tomorrow.
Crevecoeur, a Democrat, declined further comment. He was a political newcomer two years ago when seemingly he came out of nowhere to replace longtime Board member Rosa Murray, winning a contentious primary and defeating Joe Perella in the general election.
Crevecoeur holds a Ph. D. in special education and is assistant professor of Special Education at the City College of New York. His expertise was welcomed by Board of Ed members and parents who hoped for improvements in the district’s Special Education services, which were criticized in the 2015 CREC (Capital Region Education Council) report. Crevecoeur’s Board of Ed responsibilities included leading the Ad Hoc Special Education Committee.
Crevecoeur nearly backed out of running in 2015 due to political gamesmanship among District A Democrats. Leaders from the Facebook page Norwalk Parents for Education convinced him to get back in.
“I am deeply saddened by Dr. Crevecouer’s resignation,” Parents page founder Barbara Meyer Mitchell wrote. “He brought many wonderful skills to the table. This is a huge loss for the SPED community especially. I wish him the best, and hope to see him around town soon.”
After Crevecoeur won the 2015 election, he said, “I am hoping I can help shape everyone else’s thinking and over time we will build momentum, once we get to know each other and understand where we are coming from, so I am looking forward to it, building some relationships.”
After one year on the Board, Crevecoeur was nominated by Sherelle Harris to serve as chairman.
“He is an educator and understands the ins and outs of education,” Harris said in November. “I have found him to be understanding, open, accessible and responsive to all; an independent thinker who can tolerate the thoughts of his fellow Board members whether he is in agreement or not; concerned about the time to have well thought out policies and procedures in place; a team player, generous with good ideas whether he is credited for them or not; a true hand, not willing to be manipulated, ignored or merely seen and not heard, when he is passionate about what is right for children and not adults.”
BoE Chairman Mike Lyons was re-elected in a 6-3 vote.
Harris is not running for re-election; Board member Shirley Mosby is running as a Working Families Party candidate, and is the only African American BoE candidate.
Since Crevecoeur is a Democrat, his replacement would be appointed by the Democratic Town Committee. Rilling said, “We certainly want diversity on our Board of Education and I’m confident that will be considered when a replacement is under discussion.”
“SPED reform will continue,” Lyons said in an email. “Yvel was well-qualified and helped bring organization to the reform efforts, and he will be missed. But the $3.6 million rebuilding plan is in place, we have a highly competent SPED chief now (Yvette Goorevitch), and the momentum Yvel helped to achieve will continue us forward.”
Crevecoeur has been outnumbered on many major issues, on the losing side of important votes. Asked if Crevecoeur has been isolated on the Board, Lyons wrote,“I wouldn’t think there’d be any basis for such a perception. I appointed and re-appointed Yvel to chair the SPED Committee, and have corresponded with him on a regular basis about SPED issues and his committee. I also appointed Yvel to be the Board’s representative on the Norwalk Facilities Construction Commission, which will oversee the entire $170 million school facilities plan build-out. These are very important positions that signal Yvel was anything but isolated.”
Harris said, “I am very saddened for the children but I am not surprised. Dr. Crevecoeur has an academic background and Special Education expertise but unfortunately his brilliant brain did not appear to be relevant to some.”
Crevecoeur, in his letter to McQuaid, wrote,“A very warm thank you to all individuals and groups that supported me prior to and during my tenure on the Board of Education. I wish everyone continued success in actions that enhance the social and academic outcomes of all students within Norwalk Public Schools. I am confident that the strength and the high expectations of the teachers, staff, and administrators of Norwalk Public Schools will make this wish a reality for many years to come.”