Inclusive Schools

Inclusion in Lake Washington School District – A message from Dr. Holmen

Lake Washington School District (LWSD) continues to identify the ways that we can provide a world-class education for all students. One key element of a world-class education is the inclusion of students with varying, and at times, complex learning needs in their neighborhood schools.

We are proud of the work our schools, staff, students and families are doing to create inclusive schools and classrooms for our students. I am committed to this work as it will benefit every member of our community and continue to elevate our students’ experience from preschool through high school.

Over the coming weeks, you will have the opportunity to hear from staff, families, administrators and students about our work related to inclusive schools. We’re starting this series with this video sharing more details about inclusive schools in LWSD.

Thank you for your ongoing support of our work to provide excellence in education for each student.


Lake Washington’s journey to inclusion - A message from Dr. Hitch, Executive Director of Special Services

At a recent after-school event at one of our elementary schools, I watched with amazement as a group of students from the Eagle Club from Franklin Elementary provided professional learning on inclusionary practices to their teachers and principals. Franklin is one of our cohort elementary schools implementing inclusionary practices and their Eagle club is an after school club comprised of students with and without disabilities. I sat there with tears in my eyes watching children with complex disabilities and their peers engaged as friends and working collaboratively, to teach the adults in their school how to be inclusive. Each student participated equally and with support and compassion for one another. During this unique training, teachers learned how to utilize Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC) devices, provide calming spaces and design instruction for complex learners – directly from the children themselves. I had the chance to see and experience genuine inclusion, evidenced through friendship, advocacy, and an understanding of inclusionary practices. Three years ago, I could never have imagined this incredible experience. This is the manifestation of our journey towards inclusion that we began just a few short years ago.

We believe that all students have a right to meaningfully participate in the general education setting, both academically and socially to the fullest extent possible. Inclusion is realized when all students, regardless of their designation to receive special education services, are provided with targeted services, supports and accommodations; allowing them to learn in the general education classroom, interact with peers and engage the core curriculum. (OSPI, 2023)

We also believe that students are capable of being successful in their own way if they are provided with the personalized avenues to receive instruction. Every child deserves to access rigorous standards and be provided with options to access appropriate academic, social-emotional and behavioral supports in order to meet or exceed those standards in relevant, authentic and meaningful ways. When inclusive practice is done effectively, all students become engaged learners. (Novak, 2018)

We have been sharing parts of our journey over the past few years in different contexts but as we get closer to realizing inclusive schools across our district, we thought it would be helpful to provide answers to some common questions and a brief summary of the work that has been accomplished in one place that both staff and families can access. A huge thank you to the parents, leaders, teachers and therapists who have walked along this journey for our students.