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Press Releases

Connecticut State Department of Education News

03/23/2020

Commissioner Cardona Announces Dr. Gladys Labas Joins Agency as Director of Equity and Language


(Hartford, CT)  - Education Commissioner Dr. Miguel A. Cardona today announced that Dr. Gladys Barbosa Labas has joined the Connecticut State Department of Education (CSDE) as Director of Equity and Language leading CSDE’s work to provide districts with the programmatic support required to best meet the academic and Social Emotional needs of students who are English Learners (EL) so they have greater opportunities for success both in school and life.

In this role, Dr. Labas will ensure CSDE is delivering more direct, targeted, and meaningful supports for the state’s EL student population and their families, including communicating essential information to Connecticut’s diverse communities. During the current COVID-19 crisis, making sure all families have access to the same level of information is especially important.

In the 2019-20 school year, 8 percent of Connecticut’s nearly 528,000 students were classified as EL – a number that has continued to grow even as overall student enrollment has declined statewide. However, the data collected and analyzed by CSDE show a significant gap in the academic outcomes for Connecticut’s EL student population. As an agency, CSDE has restructured to better address and narrow the academic and nonacademic disparities faced by this student population in comparison with their non-EL peers, including the creation of the position of Director of Equity and Language.

A leader in equity and diversity in education throughout her career, Dr. Labas co-authored the state’s 1978 Bilingual Law, making Connecticut the third state in the U.S. to have such a law, which she also revised in 2015 to better provide English language learners with equal access to curriculum. She also built professional development plans on bilingual and English as Second Language (ESL) programs, effective first and second language instruction, teachers’ learning communities, and family engagement/involvement practices.

Dr. Labas’ five decades of experience includes 30 years serving as a teacher and administrator in urban districts including Meriden, Hartford, and New Britain Public Schools.  She was most recently Associate Professor in the Educational Leadership and Policy Studies Department at Southern Connecticut State University (SCSU) and an officer of SCSU’s American Association of University Professors. She has additional background in higher education at University of Hartford and UConn as an Adjunct Professor specializing in the areas of Leadership and Policy, ESL, Bilingual Education, and Special Education. Dr. Labas’ research, publications, and teaching focus on teacher education, leadership, literacy, bilingual program development and implementation, and discourse analysis of bilinguals. She is actively in involved with Connecticut Association of Schools on High School Reform and is the co-chair of the Achievement Task Force for English Language Learners.

Commissioner Cardona said, “As our students become increasingly more ethnically, culturally, and linguistically diverse, we have heard many of our district partners express their needs, interests, and concerns in regard to supporting their EL student population who are also experiencing academic difficulties. We created the position of Director of Equity and Language particularly to assist with better serving our EL students because, in addition to greater academic supports, we know it is just as important to provide for the nonacademic Social Emotional needs of these students and their families. In all the time I have known and worked with Dr. Labas, I know I am not alone in my admiration for the impressive results of her work and can think of no one more qualified than her to enhance our current efforts. CSDE is fortunate to have a lifelong educator join our team who possesses the necessary experience and equity lens to help provide high quality, accessible educational experiences so our EL students are achieving the best possible outcomes in and out of school.”

More on Dr. Labas’ professional background:

  • Meriden Public Schools (1975-present): Consultant; Associate Superintendent; Principal and Associate Principal; District Supervisor of all Grants Program; Special Education Teacher K-12; Bilingual Teacher.
  • Hartford Public Schools: Bilingual Teacher K-5.
  • New Britain Public Schools: Consultant K-12; Bilingual Teacher K-3.
  • UConn: Adjunct Professor in the specialization of English as Second Language, Bilingual Education, Special Education and Leadership and Policy.
  • Holds the following certifications in Connecticut: Bilingual, English as Second Language, Special Education, Spanish (6-12) and Intermediate Administrator and Supervisor.
  • Journal Reviewer: Journal of Latinos and Education and American Education Research Association; multiple publications on educational leadership and effective teaching and leading with focus on equity and diversity.
  • Connecticut Association of School (2003-present); Coaching for School Leaders.
  • Recipient of multiple recognition and leadership awards, including: Connecticut Association of Latinos Administrators and Superintendents award for Service to the Latino Community; SCSU Outstanding Leadership and Service Award; Connecticut Association of Schools’ Principal of the Year; Milken National Leadership Award. 

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