DeCourcy Kelley Papers
An Inventory of the Collection
DeCourcy Kelley (1929-2007) was born in Chattanooga, Tennessee, and grew up in Amarillo, Texas. In 1951, she graduated with honors from The University of Texas at Austin (U.T.) with a B.A. in French, a minor in Spanish, and teacher certification in mathematics. A "navy wife," she followed her husband, H. Paul Kelley (whom she had met while attending U.T.), to Pensacola, FL, San Antonio, TX, and Princeton, NJ, where she worked for the Educational Testing Service while Paul completed both his doctorate degree and his naval service. When Paul accepted a professorship at U.T., Kelley returned with him to Austin.
While raising three sons, Kelley became active in her church and in various university and community organizations, including the University Ladies Club, the PTA City Council, and the Austin League of Women Voters. In 1974, she was elected to the Austin Independent School District (AISD) Board of Trustees (School Board), and during her term, she helped guide the district through desegregation. During that time, she also served on the Board of Trustees for Austin Community College and was instrumental in helping it receive accreditation. She later served as executive director of the Austin Women's Center, where she worked to bring affordable healthcare and health education to women in the community. In 1983, she became president of the board of directors for the public-access television station Austin Community Television.
In politics, Kelley served (at different times) as the chair of the Travis County Democratic Women's Committee and on the Texas Women's Political Caucus. She was also a frequent delegate to Travis County Democratic Conventions, and in retirement, she co-taught the "Women's Issues" Sunday-school class at University United Methodist Church.
Source: "DeCourcy Kelley [obituary]," Austin American-Statesman, May 18, 2007.
The DeCourcy Kelley Papers document Kelley's activities as a member of the Austin Independent School District's (AISD) Board of Trustees.
The Desegregation series (1971-1980), which makes up the bulk of the collection, includes numerous correspondence: letters of support for and letters in opposition to busing; letters of support for both busing plan "A" and busing plan "B"; letters and petitions requesting exemptions from busing plans for students, classes, and entire schools; letters from McGinnis, Lochridge, and Kilgore, the law firm for the board of trustees, on numerous topics, including initiation of an appeal of the local desegregation order, President Gerald Ford's desegregation efforts, school closings due to desegregation, efforts to negotiate a settlement rather than go to court, and the board's acceptance of the settlement of the case; and letters from federal authorities regarding progress in the desegregation lawsuit. Also included are copies of ballots on which parents of children attending Leona Doss Elementary School indicated support for either busing plan "A" or "B," memoranda prepared by the Board Internal Affairs and Kelley regarding internal operations in the desegregation effort, and materials regarding the Tri-Ethnic Committee, which was set up to evaluate and develop desegregation proposals.
The Personnel Policy series (1974-1980) concerns personnel policies, programs, and proposed policies and programs of AISD, as well as public reactions to and suggestions about them. Included are materials relating to teacher-school assignments, minority-teacher recruitment, qualification requirements for special-education teachers, department-head job descriptions, requests for waivers of transfers, and requests for more teachers. Also included are materials related to administrative personnel, compensation issues, staff relations and development, teacher competency, and retirement issues (the latter includes Gray Panther newsletters that attacked school-board retirement policy).
The Finance series (1975-1980) includes materials regarding AISD's tax rates, requests for special funding (e.g., education for the gifted, visual and performing arts, special education, school lunches, the Austin Child Guidance Center), the cost and income of athletic programs, and budgets.
The Austin Community College series (1976-1980) concerns AISD's community college and includes materials relating to policies (e.g., adult basic education, the student newspaper) of the board of trustees, personnel and staff relations, legislative and financial concerns, and health education.
The Austin Community Schools series (1976-1980) concerns the joint AISD-City of Austin system of community schools, including materials relating to budgetary matters and letters asking for continued support of community education.
The Other Activities series (1976-1980) concerns Kelley's co-responsibilities as a board member that weren't directly tied to her official status. Included are letters of thanks for various services and invitations to civic affairs, school functions, lectures, and concerts, materials regarding the activities of the Social Policy Advisory Committee in organization, funding, social policy for the mentally retarded, daycare and early child development, and crisis intervention, and materials relating to Bryant House, a halfway house for youth offenders.
The Facilities series (1974-1980) includes materials on building use and construction, upgrade and repair requests, the construction of Fulmore Junior High School in South Austin, and the closing of Summitt School and the building of a facility in Mesa Park to replace it.
The Internal Administrative Affairs series (1974-1980) contains items of internal interest to members of the AISD school board. Included are materials relating to policy issues, such as commercial advertising on school scoreboards, student-achievement distribution, religion in the schools, city annexation plans, and political advertising in newspapers. Also included are memoranda, organizational charts, and lists concerning personnel responsibilities in the AISD hierarchy, as well as minutes, agendas, memoranda, and schedules regarding board meetings.
The Course Guidelines series (1976-1979) reflects board policy on subjects to be taught in AISD schools, including visual and performing arts, sex education, special education, physical education, health education, foreign languages, and vocational education. Also included are materials regarding student conduct.
The Teacher-Pupil Ratio series (1975-1978) includes memoranda, reports, statistical charts, and projections regarding official policy on teacher-pupil ratio, as well as letters from parents regarding the subject.
The final series, Assorted (1976-1979), includes materials on extracurricular student activities, such as school athletic programs, reading clubs, National Honor Society activities, and band and symphony opportunities, as well as materials on transportation issues (e.g., bus safety, traffic-control signs, school-bus stop shelters), health issues (e.g., tubercular testing for students, the presence of picric acid at Austin High School, psychological testing of East Austin schoolchildren, lice in schools, chemical fumes in lab classes), and post-school student opportunities (e.g., state-agency brochures on the job market and interview tips, a report by the National School Board Association on career education).
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The Austin History Center (AHC) is the owner of the physical materials in the AHC collections and makes available reproductions for research, publication, and other uses. Written permission must be obtained from the AHC before any publication use. The AHC does not necessarily hold copyright to all of the materials in the collections. In some cases, permission for use may require seeking additional authorization from the copyright owners. Consult repository for more details.
DeCourcy Kelley Papers (AR.S.005). Austin History Center, Austin Public Library, Texas.
Donor #: DO/1980/047
Donation Date: 1980
Finding aid encoded by Roger Simon, February 2014.
Detailed Description of the Collection