Special Education Team Leaders

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Special Education Team Leader Institute

The Special Education Team Leader Institute (SETLI), in partnership with and funded by the MA Department of Elementary and Secondary Education (DESE)’s Office of Special Education Planning and Policy Development, is designed to equip special educational team leaders with tools to foster family and community engagement and improve student outcomes by facilitating team meetings that are collaborative and compliant with regulations and best practices in the field

Attention: the 2023-24 SETLI application period has ended.

Click here to view the 2023-24 SETLI Schedule.

young student meeting with two caring adults

Our Approach

The Institute provides up to thirty participants with a year of courses and technical assistance that foster their ability to lead Individualized Education Plan (IEP) teams in the development of educational plans that reflect the individual needs of students.

Participants will learn to:

  • facilitate team meetings;
  • create and write clear and effective IEPs;
  • foster good faith relationships and collaboration;
  • partner with district leaders to identify and implement a capstone project that addresses a needed change in practice to improve compliance and collaboration; and
  • develop support networks to foster the implementation of best practices in the education of students with special needs.

The Institute provides the opportunity to earn 69 no-cost PDPs, and offers 3 for-cost graduate credits through Fitchburg State University (at an additional cost of $295 for graduate credit).

For the first time in my 3 years in special education administration, I have not felt alone in navigating the special education world.

— SETLI Participant

Being able to hear the first hand stories and be with people who experience the same challenges/celebrate the same success was very helpful. I have never met such positive and support people, and then to have them as a resource and someone who understands what you do because they have all been there.

— SETLI Participant

District Approval

Applicants work with their district leadership, in particular their Special Education Director and/or building level supervisor, to file their application. It is assumed that your district Special Education Director and your direct supervisor will be aware of your application to the program and district or building administrators will approve your release for all scheduled activities. Please ensure you have this permission prior to submitting your application.

This is a state-wide initiative and practices are designed to support compliance with state and federal special education regulations.

The SETLI model will consist of multiple in-person sessions and activities, online learning, a variety of assignments, coaching, and communities of practice, ending with a capstone project.


This Institute is designed for full time education team leaders or coordinators working in a MA school. These participants should be assigned to chair IEP team meetings for students with disabilities. This includes but is not limited to: Special Education Team Leaders (ETLs), Special Education Teachers, Principals or Assistant Principals, Out of District or Program Coordinators.

This Institute is not designed to support people who are leading 504 Teams in terms of the legal requirements of these plans.

For SETLI Alums

Those who have completed SETLI in past years may be interested in our Communities of Practice.

Site-Based Options

CES is available to bring the Institute on-site. If you’re interested in district-specific training using the SETLI model, in Massachusetts or other states, get in touch! State departments of education may wish to discuss a statewide approach to leadership development, or districts can customize this learning for their own district teams.

For more information, contact:
Angela Burke
Director of Professional Services
413.586.4900 x5926

Laurel Peltier

Laurel Peltier holds an Ed.D. in Special Education Leadership and C.A.G.S. in Special Education from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, as well as a professional license as a Special Education Administrator in Massachusetts. She has over 25 years of experience in transition assessment, planning and service delivery, and has provided leadership for transition in public schools and at the college level. Prior to joining the team at CES, Laurel developed and led public and private secondary school programs for students with disabilities, taught undergraduate and graduate courses in special education and writing, and acted as a consultant and professional development provider for more than 20 school districts in Massachusetts. Her most recent post was with the Amherst Pelham Regional High School. In addition to her professional experience, Laurel brings experience as the parent of a child with autism and intellectual disabilities.

Position: Curriculum and Instructional Specialist in Special Education

Email: lpeltier@collaborative.org

Mary Geiring

Mary A. Geiring is a CES Special Education Co – Teaching and Inclusion Specialist in the Professional Development Department. She holds a Special Education Ph.D. from the University of New Orleans in 2018, a Masters of Science in Special Education from Southern Connecticut State University, and a Masters of Arts in Teaching from Sacred Heart University. She is a member of the American Education Research Association, the National Association for Special Educators, the National Association for Multicultural Education, and the Council for Exceptional Children. Her major areas of research include teacher collaboration, teacher preparation, responsive classroom, teacher induction, and inclusion practices. Prior to joining CES, Mary was an LEA Facilitator at Muscogee County Schools in Columbus, GA. Her previous experience includes Program Director of the Special Education and Habilitative Services Department at the University of New Orleans, and over nine years of experience as a special education instructor in school settings.

Position: Curriculum and Instructional Specialist

Email: mgeiring@collaborative.org

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