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Photo of Waitoller, Federico R.

Federico R. Waitoller, PhD

Associate Professor

Special Education

Pronouns: He/him/his


Building & Room:

3545 ETMSW


1040 W. Harrison St. (MC 147), Chicago, IL 60607

Office Phone:

(312) 413-2116


Federico Waitoller is an associate professor at the department of special education at the University of Illinois His research focuses on urban inclusive education. In particular, his work examines the experiences of students with disabilities with market-driven educational reforms and teacher learning and pedagogies for inclusive education.

Selected Publications

Waitoller, F. R., Woodard, R., Rao, A., *Kang, V. (2021). Untangling ideologies of disablement: The perils of the (in)visibility of dis/ability in urban teacher education programs. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 1-21. DOI:

Waitoller, F. R. (2020). Excluded by choice: Urban Students with Disabilities in the Education Marketplace.  Teachers College Press.

Waitoller, F. R., & Maggin, D. (2020). Can charter schools address racial inequities evidenced in placement patterns in the least restrictive environment? A Longitudinal Study in Chicago Public Schools. Remedial and Special Education, 3, 127-138.

Bal, A., Waitoller, F. R., Mawene, D., & Gorham, A. (2020). Culture, context, and disability: A systematic literature review of cultural-historical activity theory-based studies on the teaching and learning of students with disabilities.

Waitoller, F. R., Nguyen, N., *Super, G. (2019). The irony of rigor: ‘No excuses’ charter schools at the intersections of race and disability. International Journal of Qualitative Studies in Education, 32, 282-298.

Waitoller, F. R., & Lubienski, C. (2019). Disability, race, and the geography of school choice: Towards an intersectional analytical framework. AERA Open.

Waitoller, F. R., *Beasly, L., *Gorham, A., & *Kang, V. Y. (2019). Hacia una educación inclusiva interseccional: El caso de los estudiantes Afroamericanos y Latinos con discapacidades en Chicago. Revista Publicaciones 49(3), 37-55.

Thorius, K. A. K., Waitoller, F. R., *Cannon, M. A., & *Moore, T. (2018). Responsive to what?: Conceptualizations of “culture” and “culturally responsive.” Multiple Voices. Multiple Voices for Ethnically Diverse Exceptional Learners, 18, 3-21.

Waitoller, F. R., & Thorius, K. K. (2016). Cross-Pollinating Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy with Universal Design for Learning: Toward an inclusive pedagogy that accounts for student dis/ability. Harvard Educational Review,86(3), 366-389.

Artiles, A. J., Kozleski, E. B., & Waitoller, F. R. (Eds.). (2011). Inclusive education: Examining equity in five continents. Harvard Education Press.

Service to Community

Through engaged scholarship, Dr. Waitoller has collaborated with and presented research findings to various stakeholders in the Chicago area, including parent and neighborhood organizations, legal advocate groups for students with disabilities, Chicago Teacher Union, and school district administrators.  He also testified in public hearings before local and national politicians.

Notable Honors

2022, Society of Professors of Education Oustanding Book Award, Society of Professors of Education

2020, Fulbright Fellowship, The Council for International Exchange of Scholars (CIES), United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

2019, Researcher of the Year 2018, Rising Star in Social Sciences Award., The University of Illinois at Chicago.


2011- PhD, Arizona State University, Tempe, Special Education

2007- MEd, University of Washington, Seattle, Special Education

2003- BA, Columbia College, Psychology

Selected Presentations

Waitoller, F. R. (2021, November). Excluded by Choice. AERA Special and Inclusive Education SIG.


Waitoller, F. R. (2021, August). Hacia una educación inclusiva interseccional. Universidad de Santiago de Chile, Santiago de Chile.

 Waitoller, F. R. (2021, May). La paradoja de la educación inclusiva: El caso de los EEUU. Universidad de Murcia, Murcia.  

Waitoller, F. R. (April, 2021). Excluded by choice: From promises to research and inclusive practices. University College London Institute for Inclusive Education, London.

Waitoller, F. R. (February, 2021). Excluded by Choice: Students with Disabilities in the Education marketplace. Keynote presented at Globalization, Education, and Social Policies Center at the Autonomous University of Barcelona, Barcelona.

Bal, A., & Waitoller, F. R. (2018, April). Cultural Historical research on the teaching and learning of students  with  dis/abilities:  A literature  review. Annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, New York City.

Waitoller F. R. (November, 2017).  School choice and the new racial inequities in special education. Annual Meeting of the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association, Los Angeles, CA.

Waitoller, F. R. (2017, June). Neoliberal inclusionism: Steering away Black and Latinx students with dis/abilities from charter schools. Disability Studies in Education Conference, Mineapolis, MN.

Waitoller, F. R. (2017, April). The irony of rigor: Understanding steering away practices in charter schools. Annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Antonio, TX.

Waitoller, F. R. (2017, April). Teacher learning as curating: Professional and institutional notions of justice and inclusivity as catalysts for expansive learning. Annual meeting of the American Educational Research Association, San Antonio, TX.

Waitoller, F. R., & Thorius, K. K. (2016, April). Responsive to what? Conceptualizations of "Culture" and “Culturally Responsive” in literature on culturally responsive instruction. Annual Meeting of the Council for Exceptional Children, Saint Louis, MO.

Research Currently in Progress

With a grant from the Spencer Foundation, Dr. Waitoller is researching how parents’ of students with disabilities perceptions of urban social landscapes shapes their ability to engage the school choice market. Using a longitudinal, mixed-methods approach that merges geographical analysis and in-depth interviews, the research team will answer 3 questions:  (a) What factors are considered and are persuasive for PSWD as they construct choice sets in urban settings? (c) How are PSWD’s perceptions of such factors influenced by their physical or social location? (d) How are choice sets distributed in and across urban space?