The Davis School District in Utah has agreed to pay $2 million in settlement to the family of Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor, a 10-year-old girl who died by suicide after being bullied. The settlement implies the district had no rebuttal to the allegations that their neglect allowed Tichenor to be tormented.
The suit alleged that the girl was the only Black student in her class at Foxboro Elementary School and was bullied not just for being Black but also for being autistic. She was called slurs and mocked for her skin color and the suit alleged teachers turned a blind eye to the behavior. Tichenor’s mother, Brittany Tichenor-Cox, aslo claimed the bullying caused her daughter to fail her classes.
When the district finally conducted an “independent” investigation into the concerns, the report found that the school didn’t acknowledge the district definition of bullying, fostered an environment where said bullying went unreported and that staff mistreated Izzy along with her peers, per AP News. The torment caused Tichenor to take her own life in November of 2021.
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The $2 million amount was approved on Tuesday by a committee at the Utah Legislature that oversees settlements.
“The District is continually assessing and expanding its processes and efforts to better support every student who attends its schools, including implementing trauma- informed counseling and other resources for its students,” it said in a joint statement with the Tichenor-Cox family.
The district did not admit liability or negligence, or announce concrete policy changes. The statement said the district will continue to provide training “and is dedicated to creating environments to encourage open dialogue and discussions that promote mutual learning, respect and empathy, free from any undue pressure on individual students.”
In addition to the payment, the district released an apology and $200,000 settlement to three Black students who also expressed dealing with racism daily at school.
The district encourages anyone who observes a student or staff member being harassed or bullied to report it right away. Reports of bullying will be thoroughly documented, addressed promptly, and appropriate consequences will be administered,” they said in a statement.
According to the investigation, the district must implement policy changes to make sure the bullying concerns are even put on file.