The Amelia H. Ashe Files, 1974-1985, document the work of a long-serving
member of the Board of Education. They comprise Series 312 of the Board of
Education Record Group, and are part of the subgroup, Members of the Board.
They have been assigned accession number 04-036.
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 45 cubic feet of records. They were organized and
inventoried by the Municipal Archives in 2005 in a project supported by the
New York State Archives under its Local Government Records Management Improvement
Amelia H. Ashe was appointed to the Board of Education as a Member-at-large
in 1974 by Mayor Abraham D. Beame. Mayor Edward I. Koch reappointed her to
the Board in 1978 and again in 1982 to consecutive four year terms. Mayor Koch
also appointed Dr. Ashe to the New York City Teacher’s Retirement Board
in 1978. The Board elected Amelia Ashe, vice-president in 1981 and reelected
her in 1982.
During her tenure on the Board of Education, Amelia Ashe served on numerous
committees including the Finance, Plant and Facilities and Public Affairs committees.
She chaired the Personnel, Education and Evaluation and the School Closings
Appeals committees. On an ad hoc basis, Ashe also sat on the Salary Structure,
Zoning Appeals and Community School Board Appeals committees. In addition,
Dr. Ashe served on the Advisory Council for Occupational Education and was
Board representative to negotiations with Locals 74 and 94.
Amelia Ashe came to the Board of Education after a long career as an educator
and guidance counselor. Dr. Ashe earned a Master’s degree in Education
from Brooklyn College in 1945. She began her career as an English teacher at
Far Rockaway High School in the Borough of Queens in 1948. Ashe became a guidance
counselor at Plainview High School on Long Island in 1959 after earning a second
Master’s in Guidance & Counseling, also from Brooklyn College.
Subsequently, Amelia Ashe earned a Ph.D. in Guidance & Personnel from New
York University in 1966. Dr. Ashe held posts at Hofstra and NYU before joining
the faculty of Richmond College (College of Staten Island) in 1967 and achieved
Professor Emeritus in 1973. At the time of her appointment to the Board of
Education in 1974, Amelia Ashe was director of the Consortium for Bilingual
Counselor Education at City University, a position she held from 1972. This
program allowed bilingual graduate students from Puerto Rico to earn degrees
in Guidance and Counseling.
Dr. Amelia Ashe maintained memberships in several professional organizations
including the New York State Conference of Large City Boards of Education,
serving as chairman from 1983-1985; the New York State School Boards Association,
where she served as a director from 1982; the New York State Personnel and
Guidance Association and the New York City Personnel and Guidance Association.
Amelia Ashe died from cancer in 1985 while still in office. Married twice,
she was survived by her second husband, David I. Ashe. Dr. Ashe had four children:
Richard M. Wexler, Susan Wexler Lahn, Judith Ashe Handelman and Deborah Ashe
Warheit; and nine grandchildren.
Scope and Content
The Amelia H. Ashe Files documents the work of a long-serving member of the
Board, from 1974 to 1985. As a dedicated educator and tireless advocate, Amelia
Ashe appears to have maintained good records of her activities while on the
Board. Few gaps seem to exist within the papers, perhaps because Dr. Ashe died
while in office. The files are organized into four subseries, reflecting the
original structure of the records.
The main body of records are organized in subseries I, Subject Files. The
subseries encompasses the important policy and administrative decisions the
Board made during 1974-1985. These matters included curriculum changes, breakfast
and lunch programs for disadvantaged students, and transportation for public
and nonpublic school children. Issues of equal educational opportunity are
represented through various court cases such as the Aspira decree regarding
bilingual education and the Chance-Mercado decision on discriminatory licensing
exams for personnel mandated in Board procedures. Additional cases required
accommodation of other needs such as special education and the U.S. Office
of Civil Rights enforced integration. Many organizations which were interested
in education policy contributed to the efforts to move forward.
The second subseries, Community School Districts, reveals the interactions
between the Board of Education and the school boards on the specific concerns
of individual local districts. Although Amelia H. Ashe began her first term
as a member in 1974, the files include material from 1972. The records continue
only to 1983. While some of the issues detailed in these records pertain to
all the districts, such as overcrowding in schools and rezoning for better
integration, communications usually revolved around a local board’s specific
needs. Other discussions took place over personnel appointments, shortening
the school day, building repair, and board elections. Parents’ grievances
against local districts and school board appeals of the Chancellor’s
suspensions and supersessions of board decisions also appear in the records.
Subseries three, Legal Files, contains cases covering suspensions, appointments,
licensing, reinstatements, employment discrimination, school closings, rezoning,
injuries and libel. Some suits began prior to 1974 so earlier documents appear
in the files for continuity. The Chancellor filed disciplinary charges against
employees of the Board of Education such as teachers, custodians and secretaries
among others. Community school boards, parents (individually and as associations),
teachers, supervisors and students filed complaints, grievances, petitions,
lawsuits and appeals. Proceedings occurred in various jurisdictions, including
the Board of Education, hearing panels, the State Commissioner of Education,
and the New York State Supreme Court. One of the most well-known cases of the
period was of Howard Hurwitz, a principal, who suspended a student for abusive
behavior and was later charged for refusing to readmit the student to school.
The final subseries comprises a set of chronological correspondence. The correspondence
covers the entire span of Dr. Ashe’s stay in office, 1974-1985. Mostly
copies, but some drafts, of her outgoing correspondence appear in the files.
Some of the documents contain handwritten notes, often indicating where the
originals are placed. Many topics found in the other subseries, such as integration,
special education, overcrowding, school buildings, rezoning and legal cases,
are also located here. Responses to invitations and thank you letters sent
for professional and personal events are included.
Subseries I: Subject Files (1974-1985), 29.5 cubic feet
The subseries contains memoranda, correspondence, clippings, regulations,
forms, pamphlets, reports and printed materials. Arranged alphabetically, it
spans the years 1974-1985. Reference materials from the 1960s and 1970s are
included. The files contain many administrative and policy matters such as
curriculum, high schools, school lunch and breakfast programs, personnel, school
buildings and transportation. Included also are important issues of integration,
bilingual education, special education, career education and occupational education.
The papers contain files on many organizations interested in equal education
policy, including the Office of Civil Rights and the Committee on the Handicapped.
The records provide information on the Aspira lawsuit for bilingual education
and the Chance Mercado lawsuit on supervisory licensing. Both lawsuits changed
the way the Board of Education provided opportunities to minorities.
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Subseries II: Community School Districts (1974-1983), 3.5 cubic feet
The subseries contains correspondence, memoranda, resolutions, telegrams,
legal briefs and newsletters. Arranged numerically by district and alphabetically,
it spans the years 1972-1983. The files reveal the interactions between
the Board of Education and the school boards over school overcrowding, annexing
school space, appointments, shortening the school day, repairing school
school board elections and integration rezoning. The records contain parents’ grievances
and school board appeals of the Chancellor’s suspensions and supersessions
of board decisions.
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Subseries III: Legal Files (1974-1983), 9.5 cubic feet
The subseries contains legal briefs, memoranda, reports and correspondence.
It is arranged alphabetically and spans the years 1972-1983. The files contain
disciplinary charges filed by the Chancellor against teachers, custodians,
secretaries and other employees of the Board of Education. The records also
comprise complaints, grievances, petitions, lawsuits and appeals filed by community
school boards, parents (individually and as associations), teachers, supervisors
and students. The cases cover suspensions, appointments, licensing, reinstatements,
employment discrimination, school closings, rezoning, injuries and libel. The
proceedings occurred in various jurisdictions, including the Board of Education,
hearing panels, the State Commissioner of Education, and the New York State
Supreme Court. The records contain information about Howard Hurwitz, a principal
who suspended a student for abusive behavior, charged for refusing to readmit
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Subseries IV: Chronological Correspondence (1974-1985), 2.5 cubic feet
The subseries contains correspondence and memoranda. Arranged chronologically
by year, it spans the years 1974-1985. The files include mostly copies, but
some originals, of outgoing correspondence. Many documents contain handwritten
notes, some indicating where the originals are placed. The records encompass
the many topics found elsewhere such as integration, special education, overcrowding,
school buildings, rezoning and legal cases. The files also contain responses
to invitations and thank you letters sent for professional and personal events.
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