Family and supporters gathered Tuesday (Nov. 10) to honor the memory of a 10-year-old autistic Black girl who died by suicide after reporting bullying at her Utah elementary school, local station KUTV in Salt Lake City reports.
But her loved ones are searching for the reasons why the verbal abuse they say drove her to take her own life was not addressed.
Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor died on Saturday (Nov. 6). The fifth-grader’s family alleges that kids in her class consistently targeted the girl for bullying.
“As any parent would, we reported this abuse to her teachers, the school administration, and the district administration. Nothing. Nothing was done to protect Izzy. Children did not have their behavior corrected so the torment of this child continued day after day," Izzy’s mother Brittany Tichenor-Cox said Monday, according to KUTV.
A federal investigation of the Davis School District found a pattern of ignoring complaints of racial harassment.
The U.S. Department of Justice issued a report two ago that condemned the school district’s mishandling of reports of racism, according to the Salt Lake Tribune. Investigators found that district administrators intentionally ignored “serious and widespread” racial harassment for years.
At the predominantly white school district in North Salt Lake, Utah, kids of color were allegedly called slaves, the N-word, and heard threats of getting lynched. The Black families complained that teachers ignored racist taunting even when they witnessed it.
The Davis School District said that an investigation of Izzy’s case is underway, according to KUTV.
School officials released this statement after the girl’s passing:
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. We take all incidents and reports of bullying seriously. At this point, the incident we are aware of involved another student. The teacher and administration responded quickly and appropriately. As with all allegations of bullying, our investigation will continue.
Tichenor-Cox saw no warning signs that her daughter had suicidal thoughts. The American Psychological Association has said that it’s uncommon for children ages 10 and younger to die by suicide, according to an APA report cited by the Tribune.
“I didn’t know she thought like that, I was so involved with her at school," Tichenor-Cox said. "You don’t know what a child is going through mentally."
The family launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise money “to provide Izzy with the most beautiful celebration of life. She deserves nothing but the best.”