Story at a glance

  • Isabelle “Izzy” Tichenor committed suicide on Saturday after she was repeatedly bullied by classmates.
  • Her family said they had raised concerns about bullying with Tichenor’s teachers and school officials.
  • The U.S. Department of Justice recently released a report that found widespread discrimination at Tichenor’s school district.

A 10-year-old Black student in Utah committed suicide despite her family raising concerns with her school about instances of bullying.

Isabelle “Izzy” Tichenor was in the fifth grade and died on Saturday. Her family spoke out on Monday about how they had reached out to their daughter’s school, Davis School District, multiple times to talk about how she was being treated by both classmates and teachers. 

Tyler Ayres, an attorney representing Tichenor’s family, told the Associated Press that Izzy was bullied by other students who called her the N-word, told her she was smelly and made fun of her for being autistic. The family reported the bullying to teachers and district administrators, but nothing was done to stop the harassment. 

Tichenor’s mother, Brittany Tichenor-Cox, said she believes her daughter’s case was handled with callousness and disregard, according to The Salt Lake Tribune

“We don’t take umbrage with the children,” Ayres said to the AP. “We take umbrage with the adults who chose not to do anything about it. The adults who were in charge there should have taken these kids aside.”


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Shauna Lund, a spokeswoman for Davis School District, said, “We, like everyone, are devastated by the death of this child. Our hearts go out to the family. Foxboro Elementary has worked extensively with the family and will continue to provide help to them and others impacted by this tragedy.”

A vigil was held in honor of Izzy on Wednesday, where nearly 300 people attended. 

The U.S Department of Justice (DOJ) had opened an investigation into Davis School District in 2019 and released the findings less than two months before Tichenor’s death.

The report found that Black students across Davis School District were called the N-word and other racial epithets, as well as monkeys or apes. Peers also taunted Black students by making monkey noises at them, touching and pulling their hair without permission and repeatedly referenced slavery and lynching. 

The DOJ found that these incidents took place on a daily or weekly basis, with some students saying they had experienced racial harassment every year since they were kindergartners. 

Black students told the DOJ that many of these instances happened in front of teachers and other school staff, but some would not respond or intervene. Several Black students also reported feeling some teachers, most of whom are white, were less welcoming and helpful academically to them in comparison to white students. 

The DOJ concluded that the students’ complaints were “meritorious.” Davis School District was found to be deliberately indifferent to known student harassment based on race and that its discipline practices violated Black students’ equal protection rights.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline has free resources at https://suicidepreventionlifeline.org/ as well as a 24 -hour free and confidential support line at 1-800-273-8255.


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Published on Nov 11, 2021