The family of a 10-year-old Black girl who died by suicide says she took her own life after facing racist harassment and bullying at her Utah elementary school, KTLA 5 reports. According to an attorney representing the family, Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor, who was also on the autism spectrum, was harassed by her classmates with racial slurs, called “smelly” and teased about being autistic.
The child’s mother, Brittany Tichenor, said she reported the bullying to her teachers at Foxboro Elementary School, but nothing was done.
“We don’t take umbrage with the children,” the family’s lawyer Tyler Ayres told KTLA. “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.”
About two weeks ago, the Davis School District, which includes Foxboro Elementary School, was reprimanded by the U.S. Department of Justice for not doing enough to address the widespread racial harassment of Black and Asian American students.
A federal civil rights investigation found hundreds of documented incidents where Black students were repeatedly called the N-word and other racial slurs by their peers from 2015 to 2020. Black children also told investigators they were referred to as monkeys or slaves by their classmates and told to “go pick cotton.”
In their own investigation, Davis School District officials admitted that discipline data showed their staff treated non-white students differently than white students. However, according to the DOJ, the district did nothing to correct these disparities. Black and Asian American students reportedly make up about 1 percent each of the approximately 73,000 students enrolled in the district.
In a statement, district spokesperson Shauna Lund said Foxboro Elementary School “worked extensively with the family” and claimed administrators handled the family’s reports of bullying appropriately.
“We, like everyone, are devastated by the death of this child,” Lund said. “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.”
On Tuesday (Nov. 9), several hundred people reportedly gathered for a vigil in Izzy’s honor. The hashtag #StandForIzzy also began circulating on social media to bring awareness to the tragedy.
“Even though my baby is gone, I’m going to make sure that I stand for Izzy,” her mother said. “And I’m going to make sure — for voices that can’t be heard like hers — that this will never happen again to any kid.”