(Trends Wide) — Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor, a 10-year-old autistic black student from Utah, committed suicide last Saturday after allegedly being bullied by classmates, while her family’s complaints were ignored, the family’s attorney told Trends Wide. .
The tragedy comes just weeks after the Department of Justice (DOJ) publicly detailed a disturbing pattern in which black and Asian-American students in the Davis School District in Farmington, Utah, were harassed. For years and officials deliberately ignored complaints from parents and students. The DOJ detailed the pattern in a report and settlement agreement that were released in October. The agency had been investigating the school district since July 2019.
“Izzy was a happy girl. She was a happy girl, she was doing well in school … All she wanted was to be connected with family and friends,” attorney Tyler Ayres told Trends Wide before the private funeral planned for Saturday. the morning.
Izzy’s mother and stepfather, Brittany Clark Tichenor Cox and Charles Cox, said they realized their daughter was being bullied around September, Ayres told Trends Wide.
“They found her carrying a bottle of Febreze to school, and when asked why they said she said it was because the kids said it sucked,” Ayres told Trends Wide, adding that her teacher instructed her to sit away from other students. in the back of the classroom.
Ayres also said the children allegedly used the “n” word and made fun of Izzy repeatedly.
According to Ayres, Brittany and Charles sought out Izzy’s teacher to present their complaints, but “when they realized they were not making progress … they went to the principal. The principal referred them to the vice principal and with the vice principal they felt very little heard and very neglected. “
Trends Wide has reached out to the Davis School District Board of Education and Foxboro Elementary School to corroborate Ayres’s specific allegations, but the school district declined to comment on the details, citing privacy concerns, and instead shared a press release sent to local media on Friday.
“Izzy’s death is tragic and devastating. Our hearts continue to go out to the family, friends, and community who are grieving this loss. The well-being of our students will always be a priority, and we are committed to preventing this from happening in the future. “stated the school district.
“As part of this commitment, we will conduct an independent investigation to deepen this and review our handling of critical issues, such as bullying, to provide a safe and welcoming environment for all students,” the school district stated.
African American and Asian American students each make up about 1% of the approximately 73,000 students enrolled in the district, according to the DOJ report.
Representatives from the Foxboro Elementary School Parent Teacher Association (PTA) joined the Tichenor family at a news conference Monday morning about Izzy’s death, according to Trends Wide affiliate KUTV .
The Thursday, the Utah Jazz NBA team held a moment of silence during their game against the Indiana Pacers to mourn the death of Izzy.
“Izzy touched the hearts of all who knew her with an unwavering will to always help others. She shared her kindness with everyone, especially with her contagious laugh. A daughter, a sister and a friend, all who knew her will miss her Izzy was brilliant. Izzy was love, “he told himself during the game.
Several players on the team support Izzy’s family and offer their help during this time, according to Ayres.
The Justice Department is “deeply saddened” by Izzy’s death, a DOJ spokeswoman told Trends Wide.
“We are aware of reports that Isabella faced bullying at school due to her race and disability. The Civil Rights Division is firmly committed to the full and effective implementation of our October 21, 2021 resolution agreement with the District. Davis School, and to make sure district students have access to the safe and healthy schools they deserve. Harassment and bullying in schools have devastating effects. “
“The only thing the family really wants to do is make sure the system is affected by this terrible event and then to impact the system, it will require the school district to fork out a huge sum of money so they know they can never afford the luxury to do it again, “Ayres said.
Look here at lines of attention and suicide prevention in Latin America and Spain.
Call 1-800-273-8255 in the United States to reach the National Suicide Prevention Line. Provides free, confidential assistance 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for people in suicidal or distressed crisis. You can get more information about their services here, including your guide on what to do if suicidal signs are identified on social media. You can also call 1-800-273-8255 to speak with someone about how you can help someone in crisis. Call 1-866-488-7386 to TrevorLifeline, a suicide prevention counseling service for the LGBTQ community.
For assistance outside of the U.S., the International Association for Suicide Prevention provides a worldwide directory of international hotlines and resources. You can also resort to Befrienders Worldwide.
Trends Wide’s Nicole Chavez contributed to this report.