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Davis School District addresses allegations against district, offers condolences to Izzy Tichenor’s family

FARMINGTON, Utah — Davis School District President John Robison read a statement at the beginning of a board meeting Tuesday to the family of 10-year-old Izzy Tichenor, who died by suicide earlier this month.

Izzy, a Black girl with autism who attended fifth grade at Foxboro Elementary, was racially bullied at the hands of other students, according to her family. They say the school did nothing to stop the behavior, which they believe led to their daughter’s death.

The district Tuesday said, in part:

“We again express our sincere and heartfelt condolences to the family of Izzy Tichenor. Multiple individuals including board members, the district’s superintendency, school administrators, school personnel and social workers have been meeting daily from the time this tragedy transpired. There are many things we can’t share about our direct interactions with the family because of privacy concerns and professional obligations.

“Generally speaking, extensive resources were provided to the family since enrolling their children. In fact, the family chose to have their children attend our school after moving outside the district. That was because of the relationship they had with our school and teachers. We take this tragedy very seriously. The district is currently establishing an independent team to review the processes we have in place and the allegations that Izzy was racially harassed and discriminated against.”

After the meeting, Davis School District Superintendent Reid Newey took questions from reporters. When asked if, based on the Department of Justice allegations of a “culture of racism” and the recent death of the 10-year-old, he would resign. He said no, and he believes he can successfully guide the district through this tragedy.

DOJ investigation uncovers ‘serious and widespread racial harassment’ in Utah school district

Newey said the district has started a four-part strategic plan for equity and inclusion. It involves administrators, teachers and students. A big part includes a racially-diverse staff – something he said requires much effort on the part of recruiting.

Roughly 15% of the student population in David School District is made of up minorities. Newey said it’s time for the staff to represent that as well.

“We accept the findings of the DOJ and own that, and take responsibility for that, and we feel it our responsibility to change that,” he said.

Newey said it’s the job of the district to take care of students — a responsibility he doesn’t take lightly.

The Tichenor’s family attorney, Tyler Ayers, issued a response Tuesday night:

“The family of Izzy Tichenor, while appreciative of the District’s interest and concern for Izzy now, simply wish the statement they issued today, reflected their attitude and actions three weeks ago.

“As we fight for children who feel silenced and disregarded, like Izzy, we hope we will be fighting alongside the district and not with them.  This will only be possible when the district acknowledges the responsibility they have to educate all children regarding racial, religious, economic, and cognitive differences.

“Recognition of a problem is the first step to finding a solution.”

District officials announced an independent investigation will look into how the district handles reports of bullying.

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