LOCAL NEWS

Statue of Izzy Tichenor to be placed in school where family says she was bullied before death

Aug 9, 2023, 8:08 AM | Updated: Aug 22, 2023, 6:31 pm

FARMINGTON, Utah — The family of Izzy Tichenor is speaking publicly about the settlement they reached with the Davis School District after they say their 10-year-old daughter died by suicide following bullying over her race and autism spectrum disorder in her school almost two years ago.

Not only will the district pay out $2 million, but the Tichenor-Cox family lawyer said the district will be making huge changes, and will place a statue of Izzy in the library at Foxboro Elementary School.

Attorney Tyler Ayres said during a press conference with Izzy’s family and the Black Lives Matter Utah Chapter that the settlement with the district will forever be recognized as the beginning of equal treatment for African Americans in Utah.

The statue commemorates that, he said.

“This statue is important to me and our community for two reasons,” Ayres said. “One, we can never forget the injustice suffered by Izzy for being forgotten and ignored. And two, it’s our hope that the next African American child in this in this school, and in this state, will see someone who looks like them being celebrated in this state, in this statue of Izzy.”

Tuesday evening, Izzy’s mother Brittany Tichenor-Cox exchanged hugs with family members and community advocates, as a crowd gathered to celebrate the settlement, with the overtone of sadness and grief over Izzy’s death.

The Foxboro Elementary fifth grader died by suicide in November 2021. The family said teachers and staff at Foxboro failed Izzy as she endured racism, harassment and bullying. 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.

Before Izzy’s death, the district agreed to take steps to address widespread racial harassment discovered by a U.S. Department of Justice investigation. It found the school district persistently failed to respond to reports of race-based harassment.

That 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.

Originally, the family asked the Davis School District for $14 million in damages, listing in court documents several detailed instances of bullying and harassment that Izzy experienced, as well as outlining the ways in which the family said the school did nothing to help.

Tichenor-Cox said she has since started a nonprofit called Izzy’s Village Foundation to help other kids and keep spreading Izzy’s name. She said the settlement was a long time coming.

“I’m still having issues with, as far as grieving over her,” Tichenor-Cox said. “Some money doesn’t compare to the child not being here.”

Izzy Tichenor’s family, Davis School District reach settlement in bullying lawsuit

Rae Duckworth, operating chairperson of the Black Lives Matter Utah Chapter also spoke Tuesday evening, urging the importance of support.

“We will stand for Izzy, and we will smile for Izzy,” Duckworth said. “Don’t mess with our kids. Black Lives Matter every single day. Don’t mess with our kids.”

As part of the settlement, the Davis School District said it is taking steps like adding trauma-informed counseling for students and necessary training for teachers.

“They need to do that. They do need to implement as much mental health support as they can in every corner,” Duckworth said. “Our youth, they’re the ones that are going to shape the future. And if we don’t properly support them from their mental to their physical, we’re not doing them justice. And so, they need to be taking those actions immediately.”

Community honors 10-year-old who died by suicide after reports of bullying, racism

In the statement they released, the Davis School District acknowledged there is still work to be done, even if the district and staff have made progress.

“The District is wholly committed to continuing to implement changes to positively impact students, staff and the community,” the statement read.

Ayres said they’re pleased with what the Davis School said, but that they’re watching them and will continue to watch them for years to come.

“The great thing about where we’re at right now is we have a blueprint, and that blueprint is the DOJ settlement agreement,” Ayres said. “We follow the blueprint. We follow the settlement agreement to a T, and if Davis School District simply implements all of that, we will get what we wanted. Because one of the major components to this, was you agree to comply with that 100%.”

And while the family did not get the original $14 million requested, Ayres said they felt $2 million still sends the right message.

Plus, there will be the statue of Izzy that will forever keep her memory alive.

“Hopefully, the next African-American child at Foxboro Elementary School will find comfort in knowing that they are not alone,” Ayres said. “And that this community will celebrate them, and we’ll fight for them.”


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.

Additional resources

  • 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

Center for Workplace Mental Health offers suicide prevention and response for employers.

 

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Statue of Izzy Tichenor to be placed in school where family says she was bullied before death