Utah School District Settles For $2M With Family of Bullied Black Girl Who Died By Suicide

Officials ignored Izzy Tichenor’s complaints in what federal investigators said was a pattern of unchecked racial harassment in Salt Lake City schools.

A Utah school district with a pattern of ignoring students’ racial harassment complaints settled a case with the family of Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor, a 10-year-old autistic Black girl who died by suicide in 2021 after reporting bullying at her school.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports that the Davis School District announced the “mutual agreement” Tuesday (Aug. 8) to pay $2 million to close the high-profile civil rights case. In a joint statement, the school district said it “is committed to making schools a safe and welcoming environment for all.”

Izzy’s mother, Brittany Tichenor-Cox, said at a news conference that she’s still grieving her daughter’s death. “Just because you win some money, [it] doesn’t compare to the child not being there,” she said, according to The Tribune.

The family wanted to “send a bigger message” to the school district through a $14 million lawsuit, but the settlement amount was the “right number for right now” to move forward, the family’s attorney, Tyler Ayres, said, according to the newspaper.

Ayres noted that the school district agreed to place a statue of Izzy in her school’s library. “It’s our hope that the next African-American student in this school and in this state will see someone who looks like them being celebrated in this statue of Izzy,” he added.

Family Wants Answers After Girl With Autism, 10, Commits Suicide After Racial Bullying At School

The fifth-grader, who died on November 6, 2021, was the target of relentless bullying that went unchecked.

“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 told supporters at a vigil for her daughter in 2021, local station KUTV reported.

On October 21, 2021 – weeks before Izzy’s death – the U.S. Justice Department announced a settlement agreement with Davis School District to address race discrimination, including “serious and widespread racial harassment of Black and Asian-American students.”

Federal investigators launched a civil rights probe of the school district in July 2019. It revealed that district officials persistently failed to address complaints of race-based harassment. There were “hundreds of documented uses of the N-word, among other racial epithets, derogatory racial comments, and physical assaults targeting district students at dozens of schools,” the DOJ said.

In the joint statement with Izzy’s family, the school district announced that it would also pay $200,000 to the families of three students who experienced discrimination and filed a lawsuit.

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