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Former Supt. Khelfaoui, Fired in Lowell, Lands Job in Greenfield

November 17, 2018

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GREENFIELD -- Salah Khelfaoui, fired as Lowell superintendent of schools Wednesday night, has been hired to lead a Western Massachusetts virtual school.

He will take over as executive director of the Greenfield Commonwealth Virtual School on Nov. 26. The K-12 online public school of choice has an enrollment of 585 students.

“Dr. Khelfaoui has a wealth of experience as a technology administrator, online teacher and administrator, and in public school administration,” the outgoing executive director, Judith Houle, said in a letter to the school community on Friday.

The letter failed to mention how he was recently fired.

The Lowell School Committee voted 4-3 to fire him on Wednesday. His firing was tied to a budget shortfall for the school system.

Khelfaoui once led the Winchendon school system.

Khelfaoui and Greenfield school officials could not be immediately reached for comment Friday afternoon.

“He (Khelfaoui) and I will be working together to ensure a smooth transition as he moves the school forward to the next level,” Houle wrote in the letter.

Houle announced last spring that she would be retiring as executive director at the end of the calendar year. However, because of personal reasons, that timeline has moved up, she announced Friday. Her last full day will be Nov. 23, before Khelfaoui takes over on Nov. 26.

“It is my sincerest hope that the school will continue to thrive and grow as GCVS continues to serve students who need a viable alternative to a brick-and-mortar setting,” she wrote in the letter. “Dr. Khelfaoui is excited to build on our solid foundation and to work with you on moving the school to even greater heights!”

The school -- which touts itself as a “pioneer of online personalized learning” -- serves students from across the state.

In Massachusetts, a public school of choice is funded by taxpayers, with no additional costs to parents. Tuition is paid by the sending school district to the receiving school district.

Athol’s Lindsy Lupien has a 12-year-old son who attends the virtual school. On Friday, Lupien said she has major concerns about the school hiring the recently-fired Khelfaoui.

She said she was blindsided by the hire. The last time the school searched for an executive director, parents were allowed to ask questions of the finalist, she said.

“This was very sudden,” she said. “It was not brought to the parents’ attention.”

Lupien was unable to reach anyone from the administration on Friday but plans to follow up on Monday, and ask why they hired him.

She enrolled her son, who has autism, at the virtual school because he was not performing well at brick-and-mortar schools.

“He has made so much progress here, and I want to see it continuing to go in that direction,” Lupien said.

The student-to-teacher ratio at the virtual school is 18-to-1.

Follow Rick Sobey on Twitter @rsobeyLSun

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