Whenever a parent suspects that their child has atypical learning challenges, it is acceptable to request in writing a formal meeting within the school. This will include both special and regular education teachers, possible specialists such as the School Psychologist or Occupational Therapist, School Administrator and the parents. TOGETHER the team meets, exchanges observations and concerns and then proceeds with evaluations if this is deemed necessary.
The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) has an excellent parent resource center and here are links that explains this process.
If you would like your child to be tested to see if he/she qualifies for special education services, you should put down your concerns and your request in writing and then give it to your childs teacher, a trusted teacher that works with your child, or the office (where to submit it can vary depending on the school). From there the school will do a Child Study where they will track and review academic data to see how your child is doing.
A meeting requesting for you to sign giving concent to test your child will usually come next. The school legally has 60 days from this meeting to test your child. After testing is complete, another meeting where your childs "team" (the phychologist, Special Education teacher, classroom teacher, yourself, and any other service providers) will meet to discuss the tests and whether or not your child qualifies for Special Education services. If they do qualify, the team then has 30 days to create an IEP and put it into place. If the child does not qualify, some schools will create a 504 plan (which provides accomidations to assist your child as needed).
As for what to bring to a meeting, I always suggest that parents bring ideas and suggestions for what works/ does not work well for their child in areas that they struggle in, as well as examples/ samples of areas the child is struggling in. It is great that you are so willing to be an advicate for your child! I do want to remind you that you are a part of the team that comes together to help your child be successful and that every part of the process is a team decision (no one person's voice is more important than the others, but all decisions must be approved by the majority of the team to be put into place- that's federal law).
Depending on the school district, you can contact the psychologist at your childs school and have a meeting to discuss concerns you may have. When you go, make sure you have any evaluations that may have been completed for your child. Also letting the teachers know that an IEP is possibly in the works, keeps them on their toes and paying attention to your child progress so they can add their input on how your child can succeed even more.
I hope this was helpful. I'm in the process of beginning an IEP for my child now. Good luck!
Many answers to questions about the IEP process are answered on the website www.about.com. I typed How to get an IEP for your Child. I have included some of the links below. I am not exactly sure if you are considering requesting an evaluation, or have been referred by a teacher but this website and the articles below have proved to be quite helpful. As with anything, know your rights going in and keep detailed notes and copies of any documentation throughout the process. It will most likely result in friction between the parents and the school system as they will want to do the minimum in order to ensure they are able to comply with the plan.
It will not be an easy road but certainly one worth everything it involves to help your child be successful.
Also, there are more options available that just the IEP. Depending on the situation an alternative option is the 504 Plan. The links below will make mention of it and direct you to where to learn more about it as well.
I hope whatever comes from this ultimately results in providing your child with the best opportunity to succeed.