School review panel recommends training on bullying, diversity, poverty in wake of 10-year-old student’s suicide

Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor died by suicide in November allegedly after constant harassment at her Utah elementary school.

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Ten-year-old Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor died by suicide in November allegedly after being constantly harassed at Foxboro Elementary in Farmington, Utah, because of her race and disability. The girl, who was Black and autistic, was reportedly bullied by students and staff. However, an independent commission did not specifically find that their actions directly led to the child taking her own life.

The investigative report, which was released by a three-person independent review board, found no “direct evidence” that Tichenor was bullied due to race or disability, according to reporting from CNN.

Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor, a 10-year-old girl with autism in Farmington, Utah, committed suicide in November, reportedly after being constantly bullied. (Photo: Screenshot/CNN.com)

The review team noted that “issues relating to race, disability and poverty sometimes intersect and when they do, can further complicate already challenging situations. It can be very difficult to extricate one from the others.”

For example, the report says, “When a student told Izzy she needed to wash her hair, this comment could have been borne out of racial animus, could have been an innocuous observation, or could have been a cloaked insult about poverty.”

Even before Tichenor’s death, the Davis School District had been under investigation by the Department of Justice due to complaints that “alleged that the District (1) failed to address widespread race-based harassment of students of color, specifically Black and Asian-American students; (2) disciplined Black students more harshly than white students for comparable behavior; and (3) denied Black students the ability to form student groups while allowing other students to do so.”

According to previous reporting, Black and Asian-American students account for roughly 1% of the district’s approximately 73,000 students.

The review board recommended that the Davis School District inform its staff how to identify and address bullying, provide diversity and equity sessions and “trauma-informed, poverty training.” They also advised the district to establish clear protocols for record-keeping and reporting bullying incidents.

Neither the girl’s mother, Brittney Tichenor-Cox, nor her attorney commented on the probe findings to CNN. However, the report notes that the mother began filing bullying complaints in September 2021. Tichenor-Cox noted that both Izzy and her sister experienced name-calling, including the N-word.

Black Lives Matter Utah issued a brief statement that said, simply, “We are disappointed but not surprised. #StandForIzzy”

According to a local Fox affiliate, in releasing the findings, the Davis School District wrote, “Once again, the Davis School District expresses its sorrow and sincere, heartfelt condolences to the family of Izzy Tichenor.

“We thank the Independent Review Team for its work and its diligence. We are studying the report and reviewing its recommendations. We are taking it seriously,” school officials stated.

“We vow to continue our ongoing and extensive efforts,” they continued, “to foster a welcoming environment for all students in the Davis School District.”

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