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Chancellor Richard R. Green Central Files, 1988-1989, Series 1130 


The Chancellor Richard R. Green Central Files, 1988-1989 document the work of the Chancellor, the chief executive of the decentralized New York City school system. They comprise Series 1130 of the Board of Education Record Group, and are part of the subgroup of records of the Chancellor. They have been assigned accession number 06-099

The series consists of 66.0 cubic feet of records. They were organized and inventoried by the Municipal Archives in 2006 in a project supported by the New York State Archives under its Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund.

Biographical Note

Richard R. Green was appointed to the position of Chancellor, effective March 1, 1988, after a long career in the Minneapolis, Minnesota public school system, in which he gained a reputation for reforms aimed at equalization and expansion of educational opportunity. He became the first African-American to head New York City’s schools.

Richard Green was born in Mennifee, Arkansas, in 1936. Before his second birthday his mother moved him and his siblings to Chicago, where she worked as a domestic and hospital aid. He experienced the difficulties of growing up in a public housing project in a poor neighborhood, but succeeded in graduating from Vocational High School in Minneapolis. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Augsburg College, a local Lutheran institution, and then a master’s degree in special education from St. Cloud State College.

After beginning teaching in Minneapolis in 1959, Green moved up the ranks to assistant principal. In 1972 he completed an Ed.D. degree in educational administration at the Harvard Graduate School of Education and accepted a position administering programs for desegregation and integration in Minneapolis. He became principal of North Central High School in 1974 and in 1980 assumed the position of Superintendent of Schools. As superintendent, Green was noted for developing strong working relationships with the city’s business community, for implementing a general reorganization of the school system in order to reduce administrative overhead, and for introducing magnet schools and alternative schools, to expand opportunities for children.

In New York City, Green sought to bring together the various constituencies in the schools, such as parents, teachers, administrators, business groups to support a reform agenda. He emphasized the need to build new schools and repair existing ones, in order to provide decent surroundings for educational effort. He advocated reform of the community school boards, through provisions to eliminate conflicts of interest and other dysfunctional aspects. He promoted the idea that teachers should be actively involved in the reform process, and that their voices should be heard. His phrase “safe and effective schools” summed up an approach to public schools aimed at raising them to a level that would gain the trust of middle class families.

Richard Green did not have time to achieve most of his goals. He died of a severe asthma attack on May 10, 1989.

Scope and Content

The series comprises the records of the Chancellor for the period March 1, 1988 to May 10, 1989. It contains correspondence, memoranda, reports, contracts, audits, circulars, referrals, and executive orders.

The Central Files of the Chancellor were maintained on a school year basis (July 1 to June 30) by the Chancellor’s immediate staff. While appointments and retirements of Chancellors normally occurred at the beginning and end of school years, they did not always do so. Chancellor Nathan Quinones retired effective January 1, 1988. During the period January 1 to February 28 1988, Charles Schonhaut served as Acting Chancellor. The files from those two months are included in Series 1125: Chancellor Nathan Quinones Central Files.

The files for the period March 1, 1988, when Richard Green assumed the position of Chancellor, to June 30, 1988, were removed from those of Chancellor Quinones and included in Series 1130 together with the files of Richard Green for the period July 1, 1988 to May 10, 1989.

After Richard Green’s sudden death, the former Deputy Chancellor, Bernard Mecklowitz served as interim Chancellor. His files, for the period May 11 to June 30, 1989, have been separated from those of Chancellor Green, and constitute Series 1135: Chancellor Bernard Mecklowitz Central Files.

While the Chancellor’s Central Files include materials documenting many aspects of his relationships with board members, administrators, teachers, public officials, citizens’ groups, and the general public, the full record would include materials from other administrative offices and the files of board members.


Chancellor Richard R. Green’s Central Files for 1988-1989 were maintained by his office as a single series with a distinctive structure. The various categories of records, such as correspondence with state and city agencies, memos to the board members, general correspondence, files on school districts, etc., were organized in an alphabetical sequence, with the arrangement of each category determined separately. Essentially the same structure was used by the Chancellor’s staff for each school year from the mid-1970s to the late 1980s.

The structure of the central files is most clearly seen in the following table:




Arranged first by level of government: New York City, then New York State, then United States. Within levels, arranged alphabetically by specific agency. Note: additional correspondence between the chancellor and public officials is included in the category “Chancellor’s Correspondence.”]

Anonymous Letters

Arranged chronologically


Correspondence with non-governmental organizations. Arranged alphabetically by name of association.

Board of Education. Bureaus, Divisions, Offices

Arranged first by type of internal agency: bureaus, then divisions, then offices. Within types, arranged alphabetically by the name of the division or office. Within each division or office, usually arranged chronologically, but sometimes by special project or subdivision. [Note; similar material is also included in “Chancellor’s Correspondence.”]

Board of Education.


Arranged in two groups: Memos to the Board, which are addressed to all board members; and Board members correspondence, which is to or from individual members of the board. The Memos to the Board are arranged chronologically; the individual correspondence is arranged alphabetically by the name of the board member.



Arranged alphabetically by correspondent. Correspondents with multiple letters have their own folders. After the alphabetical sequence are special categories, such as “confidential,” “suggestions,” and “congratulatory letters.”

Chancellor. [other subcategories]

Arranged alphabetically by type of document or subject, such as invitations, meetings, memos, regulations, and staff. Within types, arranged chronologically, except staff files are first arranged alphabetically by name of staff member.


Arranged numerically by Community School District. Within each district, arranged chronologically. Several folders relating to district reports and meetings follow the numerical sequence.


Arranged chronologically


Organized by types of financial operation: grants, budget, audits, programs, reimbursable programs, and state aid. Chronological within types.

General Correspondence

Arranged alphabetically.


Arranged by types of legal situations, such as charges, decisions, grievances, legislation, litigation, Office of Legal Services, and suspensions of students and teachers. Within types, arranged alphabetically or chronologically.


Organized by types of document. “Personnel Memos” are arranged numerically; resumes are arranged alphabetically.


Press releases and clippings, arranged chronologically


Organized in three main subcategories:

The first consists of files on relating to school operations. These are arranged alphabetically by topic.

Second is a set of files on school programs, relating to educational matters, also arranged alphabetically by topic.

Third is a sequence of files on individual schools, arranged first by level of school (elementary, intermediate, junior high, high school), then by borough, and then by individual school (numerically for elementary, intermediate, and junior high; alphabetically for high schools).


Arranged alphabetically by the name of each teacher. At the end are a few files relating to general policies such as sabbaticals, tenure, etc.

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