A Salt Lake family is mourning the death of a 10-year-old Black girl who died by suicide over the weekend, leading her loved ones and community to call upon the Utah School District to speak on bullying. According to the girl’s mother, she had previously notified school leaders that her daughter had been bullied but was constantly ignored.
On Monday, Brittany Tichenor-Cox recalled contacting the Davis School District multiple times to discuss the racial situation Isabella “Izzy” Faith Tichenor was facing with her classmates and teacher. Tearfully, Tichenor-Cox detailed how the abuse against her daughter was permitted because she was Black and had autism despite cries for intervention.
10-year-old girl, Isabella Faith Tichenor has hanged herself after being bullied in school over her race and being autistic. #news
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“Even though my baby is gone, I’m going to make sure I stand for Izzy. I’m going to make sure for voices that can’t be heard like hers, that this will never happen again to any kid that is her age, teenager or adult. I don’t care who this is for. Nobody should have to go through that. I will never get to see her again…I will never. She was 10 years old. She was only 10,” she said at a news conference through tears.
The family started a GoFundMe to cover funeral costs for the fifth-grader who died on Saturday.
In a statement released by the victim’s family, Izzy was repeatedly bullied and disparaged at school.
“She was an easy target especially after a teacher joined in mocking this young lady. As any parent would, we reported this abuse to her teachers, the school administration and the district administration. Nothing. Nothing was done to protect Izzy. Children did not have their behavior corrected so the torment of this child continued day after day,” the statement read.
The family hired attorney Tyler Ayres who revealed that members of Foxboro Elementary School in Salt Lake also terrorized Izzy’s siblings.
“[They] have been referred to with the N-word this year. The offending student was not disciplined in any way. We are investigating the school’s lack of response but cannot say more about it at this time,” Ayres said.
The Davis School District countered the allegations.
“We, like everyone, are devastated by the death of this child. Our hearts go out to the family. Foxboro Elementary has worked extensively with the family and will continue to provide help to them and others impacted by this tragedy. We take all incidents and reports of bullying seriously. At this point, the incident we are aware of involved another student. The teacher and administration responded quickly and appropriately. As with all allegations of bullying, our investigation will continue,” the district’s statement read.
The school district is being investigated by the Department of Justice. The DOJ recently announced the results of their two-year inspection of “serious and widespread racial harassment” that was present in the school by staff and students.
The DOJ said Black students were habitually called the N-word and other racial slurs by non-Black students. Additionally, they were told their skin resembled feces and was dirty.
“Many Black students said the harassment was so pervasive and happened so often in front of adults that they concluded school employees condoned the behavior and believed reporting it further would be futile,” the DOJ said.
The department also recognized the school district’s “ineffective response” to episodes of racial intimidation “for years.”
The DOJ has mandated in the near future that the Davis District employ more faculty and administrators of color and establish a safe place for students to go to express their concerns.
A prayer vigil was held on Tuesday at Foxboro Hollow Park to celebrate Izzy’s short life. While Tichenor-Cox is reeling from the devastation of losing her little girl, she makes a promise to others who may find themselves in the same situation.
“I’m going to make sure that this will never happen again,” she said.
If you or anyone you know is at risk of self-harm, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides 24-hour support at 1-800-273-8255.