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Michigan Non-Attorney Advocate


Angela Tyszka
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I've been advocating for people with disabilities for almost 20 years. Before my kids were born I worked in student services at a law school and part of my responsibilities was as a disability services coordinator. I found that I genuinely had a passion for it and attended all the conferences and read as many books as I could to try to help my students. Then my oldest son was born with a genetic syndrome that came with many challenges (Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Epilepsy, and more) so I started learning about IDEA , IEPs and everything else that goes along with having a child with disabilities.

Over the years I would share my knowledge through online platforms, through the parent support and resource group I helped start in my school district and through my county Parent Advisory Committee. l found that there are a lot of families out there that really need help so with a little convincing from some friends and family, I decided to start my own special ed advocacy and consulting company. I mainly work with clients in my own state of Michigan, but have given presentations to local and national audiences (which is another interest of mine). 

It's been a very rewarding career helping families navigate the process and become better advocates themselves. I'm also happy to have this forum to be able to provide my insight and knowledge to help others and look forward to learning from all of you as well. 

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Michigan mother of two with IEPs, and owner of MI Student Advocacy Services. Trying to change the world one IEP at a time. 

 

 

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

I am so glad to see you here! I am in Michigan and I need help. My daughter has had a 504 for years. She suffers from Generalized Anxiety Disorder and Depression. She is no longer operating as a selective mute, but it has taken a lot of work on both of our parts to get to this point. She is now in High School.  Our district has created an environment in which she does not feel safe.  A long story that includes racism, a Teacher bullying her, FERPA violations (her school file was looked up and shared with other students by a teacher), etc.  

When a new accommodation request was made in August,  I was told outright, "no. Thats not something I'm comfortable allowing."

Of course, because this was an accommodation recommended by the medical team, and has been successful helping her at home, I pushed back a little while in that meeting. It was just myself and the 504 coordinator, who also happens to be the HS Vice Principal.  He said we needed to leave it alone until I could provide him with the "name of another high performance school who would allow such an accomodation." I left. Then I called the MI Dept. Of Ed., the OCR, as well as our local ESD. ALL SUPPORTED ME. However,  as you know,  MI is a local control state. He still refuses. Even after the MDE contact got involved. 

In September we had a meeting that included myself, the superintendent,  the school counselor,  and a random teacher. He recorded the meeting. At its conclusion,  I was under the impression we agreed to allow the accommodation and reevaluate next trimester. The school counselor also thought that. 

However, now he says that isn't what he agreed to. And He is refusing to provide me our revised 504 plan documents.

A week and a half ago I again asked for my copy. He said was contacting the schools attorney. Though, I am unclear of his intentions in doing so. He indicated he was going to get back to me early last week and I've heard nothing.  

I can't afford to hire anyone to help me. I feel stuck! He refuses to budge.  

In the meantime my daughters anxiety is sky rocketing! She can't function in the school building and has a difficult time self regulating even after she leaves. 

The request was for one earbud to be playing soft relaxing music or meditation for her while at school. (She wears it everywhere else, even home, regularly.  -Its not like her anxiety disappears at home) 

What should I do? 

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  • 2 weeks later...

Hi, Whitney. I just saw your reply. Please feel free to give me a call sometime this week and let's chat. If I'm unable to help, I have a lot of resources around the state. My number is (517) 204-2775. 

Michigan mother of two with IEPs, and owner of MI Student Advocacy Services. Trying to change the world one IEP at a time. 

 

 

 

 

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