Shelton superintendent’s exit leaves many sad, angry

Photo of Brian Gioiele

SHELTON — School Superintendent Chris Clouet’s sudden announcement Tuesday he was resigning left many shocked and saddened and others placing the blame squarely on City Hall.

Clouet told the Board of Education Monday, and his administrative staff Tuesday, of his decision to resign as the city’s top educator, effective at month’s end. He said there was “no adversarial aspect” to his decision, explaining he has another job in education lined up but could not elaborate.

Social media exploded upon the release of the news, with many calling Clouet’s exit a “big loss for Shelton schools,” saying “he will be sorely missed.”

“This is a devastating loss for Shelton’s kids,” said Board of Education member Kate Kutash. “Dr. Clouet has been exemplary as superintendent. He has always been approachable, caring, diplomatic, respectful and calm, even under the most trying circumstances. He has always been involved in and visible at community and school events. All the kids know and greet him.”

Kutash recalled how Clouet would play guitar with the Shelton Intermediate School concert band, sit down and have lunch with children in various schools as he visited or to communicate in Spanish with an ELL student.

“While Chris has had other opportunities to leave in recent years, he has always made the decision to stay,” added Kutash. “Sadly, the congenial nonpartisan environment that used to characterize our Board of Education has changed, and he felt it time to leave. I will miss working with him.”

Former Board of Education Chair Mark Holden, who was not renominated by the Shelton Republican Town Committee and lost a primary bid to get on the November ballot, called Clouet a man of vision.

“I enjoyed working with him,” said Holden. “While I’m happy he has a new opportunity to do something he’ll enjoy, I’m sad the mayor, aldermen and the mayor’s hand-picked members of the Board of Education made leaving our district attractive.”

Former Board of Education member Anne Gaydos, who, like Holden, was not renominated by Shelton Republicans and lost a primary bid last year, said she was grateful to have worked with Clouet/

“Clouet was a positive and focused ray of light with his vision on the needs of our children and the district, despite the efforts of our city officials to try and douse it,” said Gaydos. “He will be sorely missed by parents, staff and especially our children, whose lives he touched and impacted in such a positive way. I am very sorry to see him go, but I wish him well on his new endeavor.”

“The blame for this lies squarely on Mark Lauretti and the people he pushed into positions on the Board of Education,” wrote Win Oppel on the school’s Facebook page.

“A shame … and the school loses again … tired of all the political nonsense,” wrote Mary Jane Paris, also on the district’s Facebook page.

Clouet leaves with a Board of Education that has six new members, under new leadership with Republicans Kathy Yolish and James Orazietti as chair and vice chair, respectively. Clouet stated that he felt now was the right time, with the budget proposal submitted to the city and a new board in place.

“It has been an honor to serve the students of Shelton,” Clouet said in a Feb. 17 letter to Board of Education members. “I appreciate your support since I was hired in 2015. The board members, my colleagues, the students and their families have enriched my life. I hope that in some small way I have contributed to the lives of our students while serving as your school district leader.”

This brings an end to a successful yet tumultuous tenure for Clouet, whose tense relationship with Lauretti became fodder for the press and social media over the past few years. Clouet has also dealt with budgets so tight that staffing cuts became a common occurrence.

Yolish said she was “disappointed” with Clouet’s decision, especially the timing, with the budget season in full swing.

“The superintendent has conveyed to me his reasons for resignation, which are personal,” said Orazietti. “I wish Chris and his family all the best in the future.”

“Dr. Clouet’s vision for education in Shelton was one of the reason’s I decided to run for Board of Education,” said Board of Education member Diana Meyer. “This is a tremendous loss for our education community, but I am pleased to know that he will still be supporting education at the state level. I wish him nothing but the best.”

Last year alone, Clouet dealt with the Beth Smith/John Skerritt controversy at Shelton High School; two racially insensitive incidents involving Shelton Intermediate School students, actions which made national news; and the not-so-smooth city takeover of the student transportation service.