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School District of Washburn Aims to Address Bias in Students and Staff, Creating an Inclusive Environment

Tuesday, April 27, 2021

When the Washburn School District was awarded a Research to Practice Inclusive Communities (RPIC) grant in 2019, they aimed to create systematic change. They started with the goal of closing the achievement gap for students in special education and quickly broadened their scope to include students who have been historically marginalized based on language, academic abilities, race, or gender identity. Since then, momentum has been building to create a truly inclusive environment.

The RPIC Project supports districts working to strategically implement and sustain inclusive learning communities by providing funding, quality resources, training, and coaching support. Each participating district receives these supports to establish Professional Learning Communities as the framework for implementation of Inclusive Learning Communities.

When the Washburn School District established a team to start the work, they started by looking at student data and quickly made a plan for creating systematic change. In their first year, Dr. Thomas Wiatr, District Administrator and Director of Pupil Services for Washburn started alongside the school principals, a special educator, and a member of the community, and Amanda Trautt, their RPIC Coach from CESA 12 to form a team. This year, the team expanded to include 15 teachers. They meet consistently to solidify learning and plan for the many steps it will take to understand and address the policies and practices needed to create a truly inclusive environment for every student.

The DPI is currently supporting 10 school districts with Research to Practice Inclusive Communities. For school districts in the state interested in learning more about RPIC, visit the DPI RPIC web page.

For school districts with a federal identification under ESSA or IDEA interested in exploring whether this work is a good fit for their system improvement needs, email Rachel Fregien at, and she can connect you to the RPIC coach for your region.