In Utah, 10-year-old Isabelle “Izzy” Tichenor committed suicide after enduring sustained bullying by classmates. Her family had repeatedly contacted their daughter’s school to discuss concerns over how she was being treated.
The Tichenor family’s attorney, Tyler Ayres, said Izzy’s classmates called her the N-word, told her she smelled bad and made fun of her for being autistic. The family reported the bullying to Davis School District teachers and administrators, but they did nothing.
“We don’t take umbrage with the children,” Ayres said. “We take umbrage with the adults who chose not to do anything about it. The adults who were in charge there should have taken these kids aside.”
“We, like everyone, are devastated by the death of this child. Our hearts go out to the family,” said Shauna Lund, a spokeswoman for Davis School District. “Foxboro Elementary has worked extensively with the family and will continue to provide help to them and others impacted by this tragedy.”
Less than two months before Izzy’s death, the Department of Justice (DOJ) released its findings from a 2019 investigation into Davis School District.
The DOJ found that black students were called racial epithets and derogatory terms like monkeys or apes. Students taunted black students by making monkey noises, touching and pulling their hair without permission, and repeatedly referenced slavery and lynching.
Some students said they’d experienced racially-charged bullying since kindergarten, according to the DOJ.
Students told the DOJ that these instances often took place in front of teachers and faculty, but they wouldn’t intervene. The department’s report concluded that the students’ complaints were “meritorious.”
The DOJ found Davis School District to be deliberately indifferent to known student harassment based on race and that its discipline practices violated black students’ equal protection rights.