Two years out of law school and equipped with Columbia Law School’s Lowenstein Fellowship,which supported her pursuit of a public interest career, Gabriella Barbosa (CC ’08, CLS ’13) began working as a Policy Director at Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) in District 5.Upon joining, Gabriella and her supervisor formed a parent engagement committee of parentrepresentatives, grassroots organizations, and district leaders to identify and address concernsabout the schools in District 5 through systemic policy reform.
During an early meeting of the Committee, participants from one of the grassrootsorganizations in attendance, Parent Organization Network (PON), raised the issue of DisruptivePerson Letters (DPLs), which some LAUSD schools used to bar recipient parents or guardiansfrom entering school grounds or communicating with school staff without permission. Despitethe letters’ extreme effects, no written policy governed their use—and their use seemed to beconcentrated in low-income communities of color. Gabriella and her team took up the issue. Two years later, after significant coalition building and community-centered problem solving,the LAUSD School Board unanimously passed a resolution reforming the use of DPLs andadopting a new, more collaborative approach to addressing school-family conflicts.
Davis Polk Leadership Initiative,
Community-Based Policymaking: Effecting Policy Change Through Lawyer-Leadership,
Case Studies on Lawyer-Leadership, June 21, 2021 Draft
Available at: https://scholarship.law.columbia.edu/leadership_initiative/1