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Family of Black Girl who Died by Suicide File Suit Against School [Update]

Isabella "Izzy" Tichenor was bullied for being Black and autistic. The staff took months to address the bullying allegations reported by her mother.

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Image for article titled Family of Black Girl who Died by Suicide File Suit Against School [Update]
Screenshot: Brittany Clark Tichenor Cox / CNN (Fair Use)

Updated as of 11/3/2022 at 1:08 p.m. ET

The family of Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor plan to file a $14 million lawsuit against Foxboro Elementary School, alleging they failed to address the bullying allegations which resulted in the girl’s suicide, per AP News. Izzy, 10, was allegedly bullied for being Black and autistic, leading her to take her own life.

Attorneys representing her mother, Brittany Tichenor-Cox, claim the school violated state and federal laws including those requiring the school to ensure equal treatment for students. In the notice of claim, they also provided the timeline in which the bullying began and the parents reporting the incidents to the school. The allegations included Tichenor being mocked for her disability, made fun of for her skin color and also called racial slurs.

“As a result of this unchecked bullying and the school’s overall ‘deliberate indifference’ to minority students, Izzy failed nearly all her classes. At the time of her death, she could barely read or do math on a first-grade level,” said the claim, via AP.

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Foxboro, the school director, principal, the Davis School District, school board and superintendent are named as defendants in the suit.

Previously, the district conducted an independent investigation, per CNN. The report found the Foxboro staff didn’t acknowledge the district’s definition of “bullying” and the school fostered an environment where bullying went “unreported and unaddressed.” The staff also took months to create an official record for Tichenor’s reports and only did after she attempted suicide.

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Per CNN, Tichenor-Cox, reported the incidents beginning in September 2021.

More on the bullying allegations from KSL News Radio:

The team was simply told to look at allegations from Tichenor’s mother, Brittany Tichenor-Cox, surrounding race and/or disability. During the course of the investigation, the team did find that Tichenor-Cox complained to the district that her daughter was being bullied for her hygiene.

The investigative team did not delve into that, as it was “not authorized… to investigate Mrs. Tichenor-Cox’s allegations that Izzy may have been bullied on any ground that was not race or disability.”

The report says the team did not receive authorization to investigate complaints against specific people at the school.

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Tichenor-Cox also asked for the school to give Izzy an observation and testing assessment in Fall 2020 and 2021, however, both were not completed, reported CNN. As a result, the investigation didn’t show any records of Izzy being diagnosed with autism nor being “expressly” bullied for being autistic.

The investigative team recommended the school district train their staff on bullying and “trauma-informed, poverty training,” reported CNN. Foxboro Elementary was also encouraged to establish protocols for keeping records of bullying allegations.

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Izzy’s bullying allegations were not the first the Davis School District had come across. Before her death, the Justice Department had done a detailed report on Black and Asian American students being harassed within the Davis School District, per CNN. The DOJ found students’ reports and complaints went “deliberately ignored,” such as Izzy’s.