Gabriella Barbosa

  • Hosted by Public Counsel
  • Sponsored by The Morrison & Foerster Foundation
  • Service location Los Angeles, California
  • Law school Columbia Law School
  • Issue area Education/Special Education
  • Fellowship class year 2013
  • Program Design-Your-Own Fellowship

The Project

Gabriella advocated for English Learners and immigrant students in Los Angeles to have access to education programs and language instruction in order to close the achievement gap and increase the graduation rate through direct legal representation, collaborative community education, impact litigation, and policy advocacy.

One in three students in the Los Angeles Unified School District is an English Learner, which is a student learning English as a second language. Nearly half of these students do not graduate from high school, many because they do not receive appropriate services to help them overcome their language barriers. The limited English proficiency of many parents prevents them from challenging the inequities of their child’s educational setting. Without the necessary support from the school district, these students fail classes and drop out, which results in an alarmingly low graduation rate for English Learners in Los Angeles.

Fellowship Highlights

During her Fellowship, Gabriella has:

  • Engaged in successful direct representation of English Learners with issues surrounding reclassification, special education, and recouping academic deficits incurred because of language barriers
  • Participated in impact litigation that led to a state court ruling affirming California’s obligation to ensure that school districts deliver essential language instruction to tens of thousands of underserved English Learners, as required by state and federal laws
  • Led presentations and workshops to more than 500 parents and community members about the education rights of English Learners and the relevant impact of the new California school funding formula
  • Completed a know-your-rights manual targeted to English Learners and newly arrived immigrant students in Los Angeles—the first of its kind in California

What’s Next?

Now that the Fellowship is complete, Gabriella will continue to advocate for public school students as Policy Director to Los Angeles School Board Member, Dr. Ref Rodriguez by developing strategies for advancing policy goals that uplift students, families, teachers, and community members.

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