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Washington State University
College of Education

Sara Sorensen Petersen


Sara Sorensen Petersen, J.D.

Clinical Assistant Professor
Special Education
Tri-Cities Campus
2710 University Drive
Richland, WA  99354-1671


Curriculum Vitae

Teaching/Professional Interests

Sara Sorensen Petersen teaches undergraduate and graduate courses in relating to inclusive education, special education law, and curriculum and instruction:  Professional Skills in Special Education, Teaching in Inclusive Classrooms, and Curriculum and Instruction.  She has also taught Special Education Practices for School Administrators, which focuses on special education law, policy development, and inclusive practices.

Professor Sorensen Petersen’s specialty is special education law and policy issues, higher education accessibility and instructional supports, and inclusive teaching practices. She is currently a member of the Council of Administrators of Special Education (CASE) National Policy and Legislative Committee and is the Children and Youth Action Network Coordinator for the Washington CASE unit.

Ms. Sorensen Petersen has been a special education teacher at the elementary level in both resource room and life skills settings and was a Graduate Teaching Fellow and field supervisor in the College of Education’s Specialized Training Program at the University of Oregon.

Research and Scholarship Interests

Sara Sorensen Petersen’s research focuses on special education law, litigation and policy issues in P-12 school settings.  She is currently researching trends in special education disputes in Washington state to better understand the reasons parents and school districts choose to litigate. She is also interested in Universal Design for Learning, inclusive practices, and accessibility for students with different learning needs in higher education, as well as international special education policy practices.

Recent Accomplishments

  • 2018 WSU Office of the Provost Affordable Learning Grant (with Yun-Ju Hsiao)
  • 2017 Professional Educator Standards Board Pilot to Practice Grant, Advancing Systemic Equity Using Inclusive and Diverse Instructional Practices (with Judy Morrison, Yun-Ju Hsiao, and Maria Moscatelli)
  • 2017 WSU Tri-Cities Office of Enrollment Management and Student Services Faculty Member of the Year Award for representation of WSU Tri-Cities strategic goals and student engagement
  • 2016 WSU Tri-Cities Chancellor’s Seed Grant, Issues in Special Education Litigation:  How Can School Districts Avoid Potential Litigation
  • 2015 College of Education Faculty Award of Excellence for Excellence in Service
  • 2014 College of Education Faculty Funding Award, Instructional Strategies for Education Professionals Working with Students with Autism Spectrum Disorder (with Yun-Ju Hsiao)
  • 2008 Faculty-Led Study Abroad Mini-Grant (with SusanRae Banks-Joseph)

Educational Background

  • J.D. – University of Oregon School of Law, 2001
  • B.A. in Education – Washington State University, 1995, with endorsements in K-8 Elementary Education and K-12 Special Education
  • Oregon and Washington Mediation Certificates