Davis School District creates partnership to combat racism

Jan 4, 2022, 11:46 PM | Updated: Jun 8, 2022, 7:04 pm

FARMINGTON, Utah — The Davis School District announced a new partnership Tuesday in hopes of creating inclusion, equity and diversity, and ending a culture of racism.

In October, the Department of Justice concluded a two-year audit of the district and determined racism was a huge problem.

Weeks later, 10-year-old Izzy Tichenor, a Black student at Foxboro Elementary School, died by suicide.

Tichenor’s family said the girl had been bullied, and, despite numerous complaints, nothing changed.

Additionally, in December of 2021, the district named Dr. Jacqueline Thompson as the assistant superintendent. She will have her work cut out for her with an emphasis on the DOJ findings.

But, at the meeting Tuesday night, it’s clear the district hopes a new partnership with Utah First Lady Abby Cox, Hill Air Force Base, and County Commissioner Bob Stevenson, will be one more step in showing a commitment to combatting racism.

First Lady Abby Cox addressed a standing room only room with her “Unified Sports” initiative.

“Unified Sports is all about connecting with somebody that has a different story than you do, and I think it’s always best to listen first before we make decisions on what is and what is not happening,” Cox passionately told the crowd.

Col. Jenise Carroll of the 75th Air Base Wing spoke to reporters after the meeting and said while she personally hasn’t felt victimized by racism during her time in Utah, she knows many others have.

“I don’t respond based on the district. What I will say is there’s a problem,” Carroll said. “Not everybody sees the problem the same, and so because we do believe in diversity, equity, inclusion, everyone has a point of view.”

Hailey Higgins was just named the new spokesperson for the district.

“This is a way to put your foot down and say, ‘Hey, we are not taking this anymore. This shouldn’t be happening. It is and we need to stop it. We need to stand up and we need to say something,’” Higgins said.

Not everyone agrees the district needs to address racism.

“You guys have brought discrimination into our school district. Shame on you,” one parent said.

Others are hopeful and believe the district has a big job ahead.

“This is difficult,” another parent said to the board. “But, I know you are up for the challenge. You have the opportunity to be a leader in equity and inclusion.”

Allison Schlichter and Shauntel Black are two moms who’s adopted Black children are part of the DOJ investigation. They said they are pleased with the progress the district is making, but they still want to see what these leaders will bring to the table and how they are hoping to help.

“I’m really interested to hear more about what they are planning and I hope to be apart of that,” Black said. “I hope they see this as a learning opportunity, that they recognize that they are not experts in this area and they engage in a learning process.”

“I’m cautiously optimistic,” Schlichter said. “I’m holding my breath. I don’t know them, so I don’t know how invested they are in equity versus having people meet in the middle.”

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Davis School District creates partnership to combat racism