Crappell resigns council, school posts


Berwick Town Councilwoman Penny Crappell submitted her resignation from both the council and her school system job effective today.

“It is with much regret and sorrow that I now submit my resignation as councilmember of the Town of Berwick. I have some personal issues that need my immediate attention and I feel it is important that I apply my efforts to those issues,” the letter to the town states.

The letter to the school system was not available this morning as the St. Mary Parish School Board must approve the resignation with official action at its next meeting.

However, with the resignation, her pay stops today, Superintendent Donald Aguillard said.

Town Attorney Allen McElroy said this morning that a special meeting of the council will be held next week to call a special election for her seat. Under the town’s charter, leaders have 15 days to call the election. Meanwhile, an interim councilman will need to be named.

McElroy noted that it is too late to add the election to the November presidential primary and such an election cannot be held during the runoff election in December. Therefore, the first available date to hold an election for Crappell’s seat is April 6 with a runoff, if necessary, on May 4.

Berwick Mayor Louis Ratcliff was unavailable for comment this morning.

A criminal investigation is ongoing into the “suspected misappropriation” of about $59,000 of assets at Berwick Elementary School, where Crappell was a secretary.

The signatories on the school activity fund at that time of the misappropriation were Principal Steve Russo, Assistant Principal Debbie Tompkins and Crappell.

Crappell had been on medical leave since mid-May, according to Aguillard.

Aguillard created a position at the Central Office Complex July 19 for Russo and promoted Tompkins to acting principal until the final audit report is received and the investigation is sorted out. Russo then moved to Franklin Junior High School Aug. 15 where he works as a self-contained special education teacher.

Aguillard was interviewing candidates for the position of BES principal this morning, according to his office.

Russo had no comment on the matter this morning.

Crappell could not be reached for comment. There was no answer at her home and the phone number to the family business is not in service.

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