LOWELL -- Superintendent Salah Khelfaoui received a letter Friday from the Lowell School Committee describing the reasons for his dismissal. It came more than a month after the divided committee voted to begin the process of terminating his contract.
The contents of the letter -- which was developed during executive session last week -- have not been publicly released.
City Solicitor Christine O’Connor declined to provide a copy of the document to The Sun Friday, describing the document and its contents as a “matter of executive session.”
“The committee would not be releasing the letter as a subject of executive session,” she said, adding that the committee cannot dictate what the person who received the letter does with the document.
Under state law, executive session allows public boards and committees to meet privately to discuss a select number of topics, including some personnel issues.
Khelfaoui and his attorney Michael Long did not immediately return several requests for comment Friday afternoon.
According to Khelfaoui’s contract, the School Committee may dismiss the superintendent for “good cause,” which includes “any ground that is put forth by the School Committee in good faith that is not arbitrary or irrelevant to the task of maintaining an efficient school system.” The contract goes on to list possible reasons, such as inefficiency, incompetence, insubordination, physical or mental incapacity or misconduct.
After the superintendent is informed of the reasons of his proposed discharge, he has 30 days to request a hearing in front of the School Committee, according to the contract. His arguments can be held in executive or public session, depending on the superintendent’s preference.
Afterward, the School Committee would issue a written decision, according to the contract.
Last month, on July 18, the School Committee voted 4-3 to begin the process of terminating Khelfaoui’s contract. Though some members offered broad explanations for their vote, they did not present the superintendent with a formal list of reasons.
At the meeting last month, School Committee members Connie Martin and Jackie Doherty proposed a motion to terminate the superintendent, which School Committee member Gerry Nutter and Mayor William Samaras supported.
School Committee members Robert Hoey Jr., Dominik Lay and Andre Descoteaux voted against the motion and spoke in support of Khelfaoui.
In another 4-3 vote the same evening, the committee agreed to place Khelfaoui on paid administrative leave. According to O’Connor, Khelfaoui will remain on paid administrative leave, even after receiving the letter, until this matter is resolved.
In an interview, Samaras declined to describe the contents of the letter, but said Khelfaoui’s lack of communication with the School Committee and the district’s current budget troubles contributed to his dissatisfaction with the superintendent.
“This is not where I wanted to be,” he said. “This is not what I wanted to do, but what I do have to do is deal with it.”
When reached for comment Friday afternoon other members of the School Committee either did not immediately respond or declined to comment.
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