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Stephen R. Aiello Files, 1974-1980, Series 311 


The Stephen R. Aiello Files, 1974-1980 document the work of a member of the Board of Education. They comprise Series 311 of the Board of Education Record Group, and are part of the subgroup, Members of the Board. They have been assigned accession number 05-012.

The records were transferred to the Municipal Archives by the Department of Education in 2004 from the former Board of Education headquarters at 110 Livingston Street.

The series consists of 9 cubic feet of records. They were organized and inventoried by the Municipal Archives in a project supported by the New York State Archives under its Local Government Records Management Improvement Fund.

Biographical Note

Stephen R. Aiello was appointed to the Board of Education in 1974 by Brooklyn Borough President Sebastian Leone to replace Seymour P. Lachman, who resigned that year. Dr. Aiello had served as a special assistant to Lachman, then President of the Board, from 1971 to 1974. Brooklyn Borough President Howard Golden reappointed Aiello to the Board in 1978. The Board elected him Vice-President in 1976. Stephen Aiello was elected President in 1977 and reelected to the position in 1978 and 1979. In 1980, he resigned from the Board for a post in President Jimmy Carter’s Office of Ethnic Affairs.

Stephen R. Aiello served on a Board of Education reeling from budget cuts, teacher layoffs and school closings, particularly during 1975 and 1976. Dr. Aiello was instrumental in making policy decisions which led to opening a legislative office in Washington, DC to secure more financial assistance, creating a specialized Reading Center at Board headquarters and developing guidelines for the “community school” concept which permitted use of school space by local institutions during the day. Aiello also promoted measures for curriculum change in cultural pluralism and ethnic studies, alternative education such as Harlem Prep and City-As-School and drug prevention including the Dynamite Drug program and the ALPHA school program. During his term as President of the Board, Stephen Aiello conducted forums on important topics such as school safety, special education and central Board-local board relations. He supported the creation of the Bilingual Commission and the Office of Bilingual Education.

Born in New York City on October 14, 1942, Stephen R. Aiello received his early education in the City’s public schools, graduating from Lafayette High School, Brooklyn in 1960. He attended New York University, where he made the Dean’s List, earning a Baccalaureate degree in History, in 1964. Moving to Columbia University, Dr. Aiello was elected to the Kappa Delta Pi Honor Society and in 1966, received a Master’s degree in Social Studies. In April 1979, Dr. Aiello received his Ph.D. from Union Graduate School.

Dr. Aiello began his career in the New York City public schools, mainly in Brooklyn. Starting at Abraham Lincoln High School in 1965, Stephen Aiello taught Social Studies. He also served as faculty advisor to the Debating Society and provided tutoring to underprivileged students. From 1967 to 1969, He moved to Franklin D. Roosevelt High School. Aiello continued serving as a faculty advisor, this time to the Afro-American Club and the Future Teachers Club. In 1969, he accepted an assignment at the new John Dewey High School, as coordinator of student activities in addition to teaching Social Studies.

An active participant in community efforts to promote mutual understanding, Stephen Aiello first became known as a spokesman for Italian-Americans in the early 1970s when he served as education chairman of the Italian-American Civil Rights League, founded by Joseph Colombo, Sr., a reputed leader of organized crime. Aiello was dogged by his connection to Mr. Colombo, whom he defended, throughout his career. Despite this, Dr. Aiello served as a member of the Ethnic Coalition of the City Commission on Human Rights, the Mayor’s Committee to Promote Cultural Pluralism, as Chairman of the Intergroup Education Conflict Forum held by the Brotherhood-In-Action in 1973 and as a consultant for the Center for Mediation and Resolution.

After leaving the Board of Education, Dr. Aiello remained involved in bilingual-bicultural education, alternative schools and special education for the physically and mentally handicapped. He published in the areas of bilingual education, students’ rights, cultural pluralism and school finances. Aiello spoke at and was honored by various educational, ethnic and religious organizations, including the New York Association for Brain Injured Children, the B’nai B’rith and the Italian American Educational League. In 1994, Stephen R. Aiello became the head of the Community Service Society while serving as president of the public relations firm, Cohn & Wolfe.

Scope and Content

The Stephen R. Aiello Files document the work of a member of the Board of Education, from 1974-1980. The records were found combined with those of Irene Impellizzeri, Aiello’s successor, and separated. Because of the location and the small number of files, the possibility exists that these may be only a remnant of a larger set of records. The files are organized into three subseries, reflecting the original order of the records.

The main body of records are arranged in subseries I, Subject Files. The subseries focuses on administrative and policy concerns from 1974-1980. These topics encompass budgets, finances, union contracts, legislation and audits, perhaps related to the need for economic responsibility during fiscal hardship. Additional issues that appear include special education, career education, drug abuse prevention, health education and child guidance. After Stephen Aiello became Board president, city, state and federal political representatives as well as organizations such as New Horizons and media outlets such as the Daily News sent requests for assistance, often on behalf of individuals. Although Aiello’s term began in 1974, two 1971 manual proposals, for system-wide procedures and personnel policies, are included.

The second subseries, Community School Districts, reveals the interactions between the Board of Education and the local school boards during 1975-1980. No records from 1974 have been located. While issues such as budget cuts, legislation, school construction, audits and reading scores affected many, if not all, of the school districts, the discussions reflect the needs of the individual boards. Parents’ complaints about the lack of communication with the local boards, the excessing of teachers and reading/writing tests also appear in the subseries.

The final subseries encompasses a set of chronological correspondence. The correspondence covers only the years 1978-1980, a portion of Stephen Aiello’s time as Board president. The files comprise mostly copies, but some drafts, of his outgoing correspondence. Many topics found in the other subseries, such as Holocaust curriculum, drug abuse programs, high schools, school legislation and school buildings, are also located here. Thank you letters and responses to invitations, both sent for professional and personal events, are included.

Series Descriptions

Subseries I: Subject Files (1974-1980), 7 cubic feet

The subseries contains memoranda, correspondence, legal papers, clippings, statistics, minutes, newsletters, reports and manuals. Arranged alphabetically, it spans the years 1974-1980. Reference materials from the early 1970s are included. The files focus on administrative and policy matters such as budgets and finances, union contracts, legislation, audits and high schools, including diploma requirements. Included also are important issues of special education, career education, drug abuse prevention, health education and child guidance. The records contain procedures manuals, both system-wide and personnel, proposed in 1971. The papers provide information on requests for assistance sent to Stephen Aiello from city, state and federal political representatives as well as organizations such as New Horizons and media outlets such as the Daily News, often on behalf of individuals.

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Subseries II: Community School Districts (1975-1980), 1.25 cubic feet

The subseries contains correspondence, memoranda, telegrams, reports, and clippings. Arranged numerically by district, it spans the years 1975-1980. The files reveal the interactions between the Board of Education and the school boards over budget cuts, legislation, school construction and repair, audits and reading scores. The records contain parents’ complaints including the school boards’ lack of communication, excessing of teachers and the reading/writing tests.

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Subseries III: Chronological Correspondence (1978-1985), .75 cubic feet

The subseries contains correspondence and memoranda. Arranged chronologically, it spans the years 1978-1980. The files include mostly copies, but some drafts, of outgoing correspondence. The records encompass the many topics found elsewhere such as Holocaust curriculum, drug abuse programs, high schools, school legislation and school buildings. The files also contain responses to invitations and thank you letters sent for professional and personal events.

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