Izzy Tichenor’s family, Davis School District reach settlement in bullying lawsuit
Aug 8, 2023, 5:07 PM | Updated: Aug 9, 2023, 8:08 am
SALT LAKE CITY — The family of 10-year-old Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor, who died by suicide in November 2021, has reached a $2 million settlement with Davis School District.
The fifth grader went to Foxboro Elementary School and her family said the girl’s school and the district were responsible for the events that led to her death.
The district and family released a joint statement about the resolution Tuesday. It said in part:
Davis School District is committed to making schools a safe and welcoming environment for all. Any form of racism, bigotry, discrimination, or harassment within our schools is unacceptable and will not be tolerated. The district encourages anyone who observes a student or staff member being harassed or bullied to report it right away. Reports of bullying will be thoroughly documented, addressed promptly, and appropriate consequences will be administered.
At the time of her daughter’s death Izzy’s mother reported that there were a series of bullying episodes targeting Izzy who had autism and was the only Black student in class. It was claimed she was teased about her skin color, eyebrows and a beauty mark on her forehead.
In November, community members honored the little girl in a park near the elementary where family members told stories and shared memories of her.
Before the girl’s death, the district agreed to take steps to address widespread racial harassment discovered by an investigation by the U.S. Department of Justice. It found the school district persistently failed to respond to reports of race-based harassment.
The investigation found “widespread racial harassment of Black and Asian American students,” including hundreds of instances of racial slurs and epithets and physical assaults at dozens of schools.
An independent investigation into accusations of Izzy’s bullying found reports, but no direct evidence it was on the basis of race or her disability.
In Tuesday’s statement, the district was said to have made profound and meaningful progress but “there is still work to be done.”
The District is continually assessing and expanding its processes and efforts to better support every student who attends its schools, including implementing trauma- informed counseling and other resources for its students. The District continues to provide necessary training to ensure compliance with all applicable guidelines and recommendations and is dedicated to creating environments to encourage open dialogue and discussions that promote mutual learning, respect and empathy, free from any undue pressure on individual students. The District is wholly committed to continuing to implement changes to positively impact students, staff and the community.
The original lawsuit sought $14 million in damages. 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.”
Suicide prevention resources
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or exhibiting warning signs, call, text or chat the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline at 988 which is answered 24/7/365 by crisis counselors at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute. All calls to legacy crisis hotlines, including the old National Suicide Prevention hotline, 1-800-273-8255, will also connect to a crisis care worker at the Huntsman Mental Health Institute as well.
- SafeUT: Parents, students, and educators can connect with a licensed crisis counselor through chat by downloading the SafeUT app or by calling 833-3SAFEUT (833-372-33888)
- SafeUT Frontline: First responders, including firefighters, law enforcement, EMS, and healthcare professionals can chat with a licensed crisis counselor at no cost 24/7/365 by downloading the SafeUT Frontline app.
- SafeUTNG: Members of the National Guard can chat with a licensed crisis counselor at no cost 24/7/365 by downloading the SafeUTNG app.
- Utah Warm Line: For non-crisis situations, when you need a listening ear as you heal and recover from a personal struggle, call 1-833 SPEAKUT 8:00 a.m.-11:00 p.m., 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
- The Huntsman Mental Health Institute offers a wide variety of programs and services including suicide prevention and crisis services, hospital treatment, therapy & medication management, substance Use & addiction recovery, child & teen programs, and maternal mental health services including birth trauma, pregnancy loss, infertility, and perinatal mood and anxiety disorders.
- LiveOnUtah.org is a statewide effort to prevent suicide by promoting education, providing resources, and changing Utah’s culture around suicide and mental health. They offer resources for faith based groups, LGBTQ+, youth, employers, firearm suicide prevention, and crisis and treatment options.
Other community-based resources
- NAMI Utah provides education, support and advocacy for individuals and families impacted by mental illness.
- American Foundation for Suicide Prevention offers prevention programs, public education, support for loss survivors, and fundraising for research.
- Encircle Utah: LGBTQ+ family and youth resource center.
- Utah Pride Center empowers Utah’s diverse LGBTQ+ community.
- The Trevor Project: LGBTQ teen resource center.
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Mental Health
- Latino Behavioral Health Services
Center for Workplace Mental Health offers suicide prevention and response for employers.