Family of Izzy Tichenor asking for $14M, says Davis School District responsible for her death

Nov 2, 2022, 6:24 PM | Updated: Nov 3, 2022, 12:21 pm

SALT LAKE CITY — The family of Izzy Tichenor is asking the Davis School District for more than $14 million in damages, saying the district and the 10-year-old’s school, Foxboro Elementary, are responsible for the events that led the fifth grader to die by suicide a year ago.

The notice of claim was filed Tuesday, just days before the one-year anniversary of Izzy’s death. It lays out how the family believes teachers and staff at Foxboro Elementary failed to get Izzy the help she needed and violated state and federal laws in doing so.

The 13-page document claims teachers ignored bullying and harassment Izzy frequently endured from other classmates, even though Izzy’s mother made many calls to the school to report the incidents.

While it does acknowledge the school investigated at least one incident of bullying where a student called Izzy the “N” word, it states the school principal did not properly punish the student and instead made it appear the student was rewarded for his behavior.

It also details an incident Izzy’s mother, Brittany Tichenor-Cox, reported to the school, where the same boy allegedly told Izzy he brought a gun and threatened to use it.

The document says the school again investigated but indicates the investigation was not thorough and failed to make any finding of whether a threat was made.

Report: ‘No direct evidence’ Izzy Tichenor was bullied over race; school staff failed to document and report

The notice of claim also says the school “failed to provide Izzy with appropriate evaluations of her abilities and limitations for her academic and social development.”

According to the notice, Izzy failed school projects, assignments, tests and quizzes and had a reading comprehension level for a much younger child and a low proficiency with math.

Despite that, Tichenor-Cox’s attorneys said Foxboro continued to place Izzy “in a mainstream school setting she was not capable of understanding in the setting and with other children, she was placed, and her grades indicate as much.”

It also lays out claims that the school failed to connect Izzy and her family to available state and federal assistance even though teachers and staff knew she was a vulnerable student experiencing homelessness.

Instead, the claim document says teachers openly commented on Izzy’s hygiene and odor in front of other students and created a hostile classroom environment.

“Defendants ignored indicators of homelessness and corresponding challenges to fitting in with other kids and succeeding in school,” it states.

Death of bullied Utah girl draws anger over suicides, racism

Izzy died by suicide on Nov. 6, 2021. The notice of claim says her death came after Izzy felt “bullied, abused, discriminated against, excluded, alone, and vulnerable as a result of the District’s and Foxboro’s failure to comply with State and Federal Regulations.”

“Izzy was bullied, abused, harassed, and excluded from activities because she was female, learning disabled, poor, homeless, and Black,” the notice says.

The attorneys representing Tichenor-Cox said she is asking the Davis School District for $14.1 million in damages, and the district has 30 days to pay it, or she intends to file a lawsuit.

On Wednesday, the Davis School District released this statement in response to the Notice of Claim:

The Davis School District sends its sincere, heartfelt condolences to the family of Izzy Tichenor. As we approach the anniversary of her passing, we are mindful of the impact she’s left on the community. We love Izzy and our focus and energy remain devoted to providing a safe and welcoming environment for all students.

We appreciate the interest on the case, but until we carefully review it and confer with legal counsel, our district will not be able to comment further.

The Davis School District teaches roughly 73,000 students in Salt Lake City’s north suburbs. Only about 1% are Black. It was reprimanded last year by the U.S. Department of Justice for failing to address widespread racial discrimination and forced to, as part of a settlement agreement, change its policies, offer more training and establish a new department to handle complaints.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1.800.273.TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text line by texing TALK to 741741.

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Family of Izzy Tichenor asking for $14M, says Davis School District responsible for her death