D.T. v. Cherry Creek School, No. 21-1265 (10th Cir. 2022)Annotate this Case
In the fall of 2015, D.T. enrolled as a freshman at Cherokee Trail High School in Aurora, Colorado. During his time at Cherokee Trail, he suffered from depression and a general decline in academic performance. His mother regularly communicated with school officials regarding his well-being and coordinated in-school support. During the first semester of his junior year, D.T. was reported for making a school shooting threat. As a result, he was expelled from Cherokee Trail and the Cherry Creek School District (“the District”) initiated a special education assessment. In December 2017, the District concluded D.T. suffered from a Serious Emotional Disability and approved an individualized education program (“IEP”) to assist his learning. D.T. appealed a district court's judgment finding the District did not deny him access to a free and appropriate public education as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (“IDEA”). D.T. asked the Tenth Circuit to conclude the District violated its obligation to identify, or “child find,” students with disabilities who required supplementary academic supports. The Tenth Circuit declined D.T.'s request, finding the District acted reasonably to preserve his access to the benefit of general education. "The District’s duty to assess and provide D.T. with special education services did not begin until his emotional dysfunction manifested in the school environment by way of his shooting threat."