School of Black Utah scholar who died by suicide allowed bullying ‘on any floor’ to go unchecked, report finds

By Nicole Chavez, CNN

When Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor died by suicide in November, her mom alleged that the 10-year-old Black and autistic scholar at Foxboro Elementary in Farmington, Utah, had been bullied due to her race and incapacity.

Izzy’s demise sparked widespread outrage and renewed questions concerning the Davis School District’s dealing with of bullying allegations.

In a newly launched investigative report commissioned by the district, a three-person evaluation staff realized that Izzy was advised by classmates and lecturers that she smelled and wanted to wash, however discovered no “direct evidence” the woman had been bullied on the idea of her race or incapacity.

The evaluation staff famous that “issues relating to race, disability, and poverty sometimes intersect and when they do, can further complicate already challenging situations. It can be very difficult to extricate one from the others.”

“When a student told Izzy she needed to wash her hair, this comment could have been borne out of racial animus, could have been an innocuous observation, or could have been a cloaked insult about poverty,” the report says.

The findings do present, nevertheless, that the college failed to guard Izzy by dismissing and never investigating in a well timed method her mom’s allegation that Izzy was bullied.

The report additionally discovered that employees at Foxboro didn’t present “actual knowledge” of the district’s definition of “bullying,” and that the college fostered an environment “in which bullying … could go underreported, uninvestigated, and unaddressed.”

Izzy’s demise got here weeks after the Justice Department publicly detailed a disturbing sample on the Davis School District by which Black and Asian American college students had been harassed for years and officers had intentionally ignored complaints from mother and father and college students. The DOJ’s findings got here in a report and settlement settlement launched in October. The company had been investigating the college district since July 2019.

Tyler Ayres, an lawyer representing the Tichenor household, declined to remark for this story. He beforehand advised CNN the household sought out lecturers and college management to report that Izzy was teased repeatedly and felt ignored.

Izzy’s mom, Brittany Tichenor-Cox, didn’t reply to a CNN request for remark.

Neither Ayres nor Izzy’s mom agreed to take part within the college district’s unbiased evaluation, the report says.

In an announcement, the Davis School District mentioned it was reviewing the report’s suggestions and despatched condolences to Izzy’s household.

“We are taking it seriously. We vow to continue our ongoing and extensive efforts to foster a welcoming environment for all students in the Davis School District,” the assertion mentioned.

Report: Izzy wasn’t ‘expressly’ bullied for being Black or autistic

The college acquired studies of bullying allegations nevertheless it took months for workers to create an official document, and solely did so after studying that Izzy had tried suicide, the report says.

Tichenor-Cox reported three incidents beginning in September of 2021, together with an incident by which Izzy’s sister had allegedly been referred to as names by a scholar, the report mentioned.

Tichenor-Cox reached out to highschool officers saying the identical scholar had allegedly threatened her youngsters and advised them he had a gun, the report says. The college employees reviewed surveillance video and searched the coed’s backpack three days later, concluding they may not assist the allegations, the report mentioned.

Every week later, Tichenor-Cox mentioned “the same student called Izzy’s sister the ‘N-word’ and touched her.” The college couldn’t verify the alleged incident after reviewing surveillance video and talking with two “potential witnesses,” the report mentioned.

However, college officers decided it appeared “more likely than not” that the confrontation occurred and determined to droop the coed, barring him from consuming breakfast within the college cafeteria, and making each events — the coed and the Tichenor youngsters — signal a contract agreeing to keep away from one another. The report didn’t say if Izzy was conscious of or witnessed the alleged incidents.

The college advised the district that it could must conduct an investigation into racial bullying however didn’t particularly point out the Tichenors.

While the report says not one of the greater than 40 college workers and college students interviewed for the investigation recalled Izzy being “expressly” bullied for being Black or autistic, many mentioned college students and lecturers made feedback about her hygiene.

Tichenor-Cox complained to a trainer that certainly one of Izzy’s classmates bullied Izzy, telling her she smelled and that she wanted to scrub her hair, the report says.

A particular training trainer advised the evaluation staff that she advised Izzy she smelled and requested her if she had taken a bathe, the report mentioned. At some level, Tichenor-Cox complained about trainer telling the category they “smelled” and mentioned Izzy sprayed Febreze on herself earlier than going to highschool after listening to these feedback, the report mentioned.

The unbiased evaluation additionally famous that no information present any prognosis of autism for Izzy. Her mom had requested college directors for an evaluation in fall of 2020, the report mentioned, however she by no means introduced Izzy in for the requested commentary and testing. Her mom made one other request for an evaluation in September of 2021, which was performed in October, however the evaluation had not been accomplished when Izzy died, the report mentioned.

Based on their report, the staff is recommending the college district practice its employees on how you can establish and handle bullying, present variety and fairness periods, and “trauma-informed, poverty training.”

Foxboro Elementary must also set up clear protocols for record-keeping and reporting of bullying, the report says.

The Utah chapter of Black Lives Matter mentioned in an announcement they have been “disappointed but not surprised” by the report’s findings.

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