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
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.
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
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.
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
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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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