Content warning: This story involves the death of a child by suicide. For resources on mental health, please click HERE.
In November 2021, Isabella "Izzy" Tichenor died by suicide after her mother said the 10-year-old was subjected to bullying at the Farmington, Utah elementary school she attended. Izzy's mother, Brittany Tichenor-Cox, alleged that her daughter was bullied because of her race and for being on the Autism spectrum. A new report found the school created an atmosphere "in which bullying ... could go underreported, uninvestigated, and unaddressed."
Following Izzy's death, the Davis School District commissioned an investigative report in which a three-person panel found that teachers and students at Foxboro Elementary School participated in the bullying of Izzy, CNN reported. The report found that educators and Izzy's classmates told her she smelled and needed to bathe, but did not find "direct evidence" that she was bullied on the basis of her race or being on the Autism spectrum.
However, the panel noted that some of the comments Izzy endured could be linked to "issues of race, disability, and poverty." Specifically, like when another student told Izzy she needed to wash her hair, the panel said "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."
Regardless, the panel found that the school failed to protect Izzy and that staff didn't have an understanding of what the districted defined as bullying, all of which lead to the aforementioned atmosphered of "unchecked" bullying –– so much so that the United States Department of Justice launched its own investigation.
The DOJ found that Black and Asian students of Davis School District had been subjected to targeted harassment for years, without adequate intervention from school authority, who also deliberately ignored complaints by parents and students.
The school has been recommended to improve documentation and implement training for staff.
The Utah Chapter of Black Lives Matter released a statement on the findings, saying they were "disappointed but not surprised" by the report.
If you or someone you know need mental health help, text "STRENGTH" to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 to be connected to a certified crisis counselor.
The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255
The National Alliance on Mental Illness 1-800-950-6264
The Association of Black Psychologists 1-301-449-3082
The Anxiety and Depression Association of America 1-240-485-1001