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Amelia H. Ashe Files, 1974-1985, Series 312 


Introduction

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 Livingston Street.

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 Fund.

Biographical Note

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.

Series Descriptions

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 buildings, 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 that student.

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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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