NORWALK, Conn. – The Norwalk Board of Education turmoil has escalated: Bruce Kimmel has resigned.
“I resigned for political, personal and, most of all, health reasons,” Kimmel said in a email to Board of Education members. “I faced a choice: Increase the medication that enables me to breathe, which has some serious side effects, or step down from the board. I chose the latter. Some of you may know that for the last couple of years, I’ve had to deal with two pulmonologists and a cardiologist in NYC, and my allergist in Norwalk. There’s actually nothing wrong – it’s the stress.”
Kimmel was elected as new Chairman just a week ago. He presided over the most contentious Board of Education meeting in recent history and was attempting to deal with ongoing NAACP anger over an email written in June by then-Chairman Mike Barbis.
Kimmel’s resignation was first reported by the Hour and confirmed for NancyOnNorwalk by Mayor Harry Rilling.
Kimmel submitted his resignation to Town Clerk Rick McQuaid on Monday, he said Tuesday afternoon.
“I also stopped by the Registrar of Voters office and changed my party affiliation from D to U. I believe the members of the Norwalk Democratic Party need to do some serious soul searching,” Kimmel said in an email to NancyOnNorwalk.
Democratic Town Committee Chairperson Ed Camacho said he doesn’t know why Kimmel is unhappy with the DTC.
“Just look at the recent election results – four terms for Mayor Rilling, back-to-back 14 to 1 majorities on the Common Council, and, this year, a clean sweep of open seats on the Board of Ed. As regards the vacancy created by his departure, we have a number of interested people to fill this seat, and we will work to do so quickly,” Camacho wrote.
Kimmel is a former Common Council member elected to the Board of Education two years ago. He led the Council Finance Committee for years; BoE Finance Committee Chairman Bryan Meek did not win reelection.
Kimmel has had issues with the Democratic Party before. In 2013, Kimmel was endorsed by Republicans for reelection to the Council. He had been caucusing with Republicans but had remained a Democrat.
The Norwalk NAACP has been demanding that Barbis resign. Barbis refuses and there is no legal way for Board members to remove him. The City Hall community room was packed for last week’s BoE meeting, mostly with NAACP members.
Norwalk Branch NAACP President Brenda Penn-Williams said she is shocked to hear that Kimmel has resigned. The NAACP plans to keep up the pressure on Barbis, she said.
“Bruce has devoted so much of himself to our community as both a Councilman and a Board Member. I thank him for his service,” wrote new Board of Education member Erica DePalma. “He’s been nothing but a wonderful mentor to me and while I wish we could have worked together, it’s important that he prioritize his health. I’m confident that the rest of the team will continue to work in collaboration toward positive outcomes.”
This story has been updated multiple times.