Citywide Parents Council records
The Citywide Parents Council, Inc. (CPC) was a community/school based, non-profit, advisory organization established by Federal District Court mandate (Judge Arthur Garrity in the case of Tallulah Morgan vs. James Hennigan) in 1974. The CPC operated as an autonomous entity of the school system from 1974 to 2004. The Citywide Parents Council Records document the organization's mission to foster parental involvement in the schools, provide positive input into educational policies, and hold the Boston Public Schools accountable for providing a quality education to all students. This series contains the records of parent councils at all levels: citywide (CPAC, CPC); district (CDACs, DPCs); and school councils (REPCs, SPCs).
- Boston Public Schools. Citywide Parents' Council (Organization)
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In the June 1974 decision for Morgan vs. Hennigan, Federal District Court Judge Arthur Garrity released a four-part plan linking quality education to desegregation in the Boston Public Schools. This plan was unprecedented in that it was the first time an education/desegregation case sought to improve quality of education as well as desegregate. Also, it was the first case a state level department and a citizen body monitored compliance with court orders. The mechanisms Garrity ordered for the plan were as follows: desegregate through reassignment of students and staff; decentralize through redistricting to eight community school districts and one citywide magnet school district; increase parent participation through citizen monitoring committees; utilize metropolitan resources via collegiate, and create cultural or business pairings with individual schools.
In two orders, issued in 1974 and 1975, Judge Garrity mandated that a three-tiered structure of citizen participation groups be established to cover all levels of the school system from individual schools, to community districts, to the entire system. In October of 1974, Garrity ordered the creation of Racial Ethnic Parent Councils (REPCs) and a Citywide Parents Advisory Council (CPAC). Garrity stated that the function of these parent groups was to “insure adequate and impartial investigation and responsible recommendations on racially and ethnically oriented problems arising at the school; to create means of communication between parents, students, teachers and administrators regarding the solution of such problems; and to promote an environment of understanding and common purpose among the various elements of the community so that the best available education may be offered to all children." The CPAC was established to assist the REPCs in fulfilling their mission. In June of 1975, Garrity ordered the creation of nine Community District Advisory Councils (CDACs) to act as advisory groups to the districts. The three parent groups, CPAC, CDAC and REPC, comprised a three-tiered structure of citizen participation groups.
The first tier, REPC, dealt with school level problems at each individual school. REPCs were comprised of parents representing different races, with three parent representatives for each elementary school, four for middle schools and five for high schools. The second tier was the CDAC, which dealt with district level issues and monitored each district for compliance with court orders. CDAC had ten elected (chosen by REPCs) and ten court appointed members representing teachers, police school department, business, university and labor groups. The third tier, the CPAC, dealt with citywide issues and monitored student discipline. CPAC had a total of 22 elected parent representatives according to these court ordered racial guidelines: one Black, one White for each district, two Asian and two Hispanic citywide.
Monitoring the schools for compliance with court orders was an integral responsibility of the parent councils. The court divided monitoring into twelve areas: student assignments; school capacities/program locations; faculty/administrative desegregation; special desegregation measures; special education; bilingual education; vocational/occupational education; student transportation; construction/renovation and closing of school facilities; school safety and security; student discipline; institutional pairings.
Also of note, Garrity mandated the Citywide Coordinating Council (CCC) in 1975 to foster public awareness of the process of implementing the court’s desegregation orders. In 1977, the Citywide Coordinating Council was disbanded by court order and its responsibilities were split between the Department of Implementation's External Liaison Unit and the parent/citizen councils.
In 1982, parent councils completed a self-evaluation study and reorganized the structure of parent councils with court approval. The new configuration included: School Parent Councils (SPCs) and School Parent Council Executive Committees (SPCECs) at each school; nine District Parent Councils (DPCs), composed of co-chairs of the SPCECs; and a Citywide Parents Council (CPC), composed of parents elected from among SPCEC members in each district. The CPC was the umbrella organization for councils at each level, which were required to have fair representation of Black, White, Hispanic, and Asian parents where possible.
The CPC operated as an autonomous entity of the Boston Public School System, although it was housed within it. The mission of the CPC was to foster parental involvement in the schools, provide positive input into educational policies and hold the Boston Public Schools accountable for providing a quality education to all students. Staff worked to provide information; assist with student assignments and transportation; advocate for facility improvements; and arrange conflict resolution sessions at schools. The Board of Directors worked to: empower parents to become effective advocates in areas of curriculum improvement; increase visibility of parents; strengthen SPCs; and foster effective communication system wide. The CPC sponsored educational conferences, trainings and workshops; published two newsletters called Intouch, and Parents United. they also sponsored a weekly television show with the Cablevision Answer Channel A24.
The Citywide Parents Council often collaborated with other community groups in Boston, including: the Black Ministerial Alliance of Greater Boston; the Urban League Community Mobilization Project; Roxbury YMCA; Roxbury Multi-Service Center and Project Right; Quincy/Geneva Housing Corp.; Boston Plan for Excellence Access; WEATOC; NAACP; Blue Hill and Elm Hill Housing.
In the Final Orders of 1985, the court ruled that CPC was to be funded for at least three more years. In the additional ruling of May 1990, the court confirmed the necessity for the CPC, but no longer required the school department to fund it. At its inception, the CPC had over $700,000.00 in funding. This was slowly reduced every year and by 1992, the CPC had a budget of a little over $150,000.00. Today the CPC exists as a volunteer run organization with activities funded by grant money.
Overview of Citywide Parents Council; 1974-1999. Citywide Parents Council. n.d.
Procedural Manual for Monitoring, Dispute Resolution and Modification of Federal Desegregation Court Orders in the Boston Public Schools. Massachusetts Department of Education. May 1983.
PEP Grant: Parents Empowering Parents. Citywide Parents Council. 1993 - 1994.
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- Guide to the Citywide Parents Council records
- Boston Public Schools: Desegregation-era records collection
- Sheila Spalding
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- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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- Project funded by a grant from the National Historic Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC)