Who We Are

Sylvia Lazos

Policy Director

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Sylvia Lazos is the Justice Myron Leavitt Professor at William S. Boyd School of Law, University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she has served since 2002. Her areas of specialty are Constitutional Law, Education Reform, and critical race theory. Her research has dealt with the importance of diversity in the judiciary, and how to incorporate norms of diversity into constitutional principles. Her articles have been published in the country’s top law reviews. She graduated from University of Michigan Law School, cum laude, where she served on the Michigan Law Review and received the award as outstanding student leader of her class. She received her M.A. and B.A., magna cum laude, in Economics from St. Mary’s University in San Antonio. She is a former partner of McConnell Valdes, in San Juan, Puerto Rico, where she practiced commercial and real estate law.

Since arriving in Las Vegas twelve years ago, Professor Lazos has been an active community leader in education reform. She served as chair of Chancellor Jim Rogers’ Roundtable of community leaders. She has written policy briefs on English Language Learners (ELL), high school dropouts, and immigration in Las Vegas. She has served on committees convened by three Superintendents of the Clark County School District (CCSD) to examine the achievement gap, ELLs, and cultural competency of teachers.

Professor Lazos has worked closely with both Republicans and Democrats in the Legislature to re-examine Nevada’s school funding formula, better education funding for ELLs, helping low-income families via the Victory School program, Read by Three literacy, and other key legislation. She has led research efforts at UNLV to study the impact of immigration in Las Vegas, having received a President’s Initiative Grant. She co-authored with UNLV College of Education colleagues the first study of ELL student achievement performance at CCSD with a Lincy Institute Research award.

In 2011, she worked closely with the Nevada Legislative Hispanic Caucus, UNLV College of Education, and CCSD to bring forward a program for the Legislature’s consideration to improve literacy for vulnerable children by establishing Reading Skills Development Centers in schools with low literacy performance. In the 2013 legislative session, she again collaborated with the Nevada Legislative leadership to create the zoom school program under SB504, the first time that the State of Nevada has set policy on the education of ELLs, and provided dedicated funding to ELL students.

Professor Lazos is vice chair of the Latino Leadership Council. Through Professor Lazos’ leadership, the Latino community has become more involved in policy discussions about education reform, the teacher pipeline, ELLs, and closing the achievement gaps. Professor Lazos is one of the State’s top experts in ELL policy and closing the achievement gap.

Lazos is a member of the Latin Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, the Community Group of Nevada Succeeds!, the Education Council of the Las Vegas Global Economic Alliance, Downtown Achieves Leadership Council, and the CCSD English Language Acquisition and Literacy Committee.