DAVIS COUNTY, Utah — The investigators who were hired to look into claims that a 10-year-old Utah girl was bullied because of her race and disability prior to her death by suicide have released a report of their findings.
The investigation found "no direct evidence" that Izzy Tichenor was bullied for these reasons, but it did learn of other incidents of bullying and recommended some changes for the school to implement.
In an executive summary released Friday, the team of independent investigators said it learned that Tichenor's mother had complained to the school — Foxboro Elementary in the Davis School District — that she was bullied for her hygiene. However, they say they were unable to investigate the matter further because they were only authorized to investigate allegations of bullying related to race and disability.
Although the investigators said they found no evidence that Tichenor was bullied for these reasons, they found documented incidents of her sibling being racially abused.
Tichenor's mother alleged that a student at Foxboro called one of her other daughters the "n-word" and touched her. The school investigated this, and ultimately suspended the student and put in place measures to prevent the student from interacting with any members of the Tichenor family.
In general, the investigation found that the school "failed to timely document or record reports of bullying, administrator or educator interventions, and/or communications with the Tichenor family." It also found that administrators, teachers and other staff did not fully understand the district's definition of "bullying."
The investigation team included a "summary of recommendations" for the Davis School District and Foxboro Elementary. It reads:
"Based on its observations, The Investigation Team recommends: (1) the District provide training to its administrators and educators on how to identify and address bullying; (2) the District provide diversity and equity training to its administrators and educators; (3) the District provide trauma-informed, poverty training to its administrators and educators; and (4) Foxboro establish clear protocols for record keeping and reporting."
They also included a "conclusion," which read:
"Foxboro Elementary School is home to a diverse community. Teachers and administrators proudly hang posters in their classrooms and hallways that promote love, acceptance, and friendship. The teachers, administrators, and staff talked about their commitment to the children at Foxboro and their concern about student wellbeing. The Investigation Team believes that Foxboro did care about the Tichenor-Coxes and provided invaluable support as the family experienced housing instability. Those at Foxboro who spoke to Izzy with compassion and acted diligently as an advocate for the Tichenor-Cox family should be commended. It is without a doubt that Izzy's death impacted the Foxboro community in immeasurable ways.
"The school's support does not, however, excuse what the Team saw as failures to protect Izzy Tichenor. To cultivate the safe community Foxboro strives to embody, administrators and educators should investigate every allegation of bullying, regardless of purported ground or perpetrator. Mrs. Tichenor-Cox reported at least one incident that she believed constituted bullying to Foxboro. Foxboro had an obligation and responsibility to Izzy to investigate Mrs. Tichenor-Coxes report. Yet, Foxboro dismissed and failed to timely document her concern. As a result. Foxboro failed to conduct the investigation that Izzy was due and deserved.
"The Team's recommendations, if followed, will better equip Foxboro to receive and respond to allegations of bullying in the future and help create a more receptive and responsive learning environment for all students. With the proper training. Foxboro could be the school that it holds itself up to be: warm and welcoming to every child and their family."
A PDF of the full executive summary can be found here.
The district issued the following statement along with the executive summary:
"Once again, the Davis School District expresses its sorrow and sincere, heartfelt condolences to the family of Izzy Tichenor.
"We thank the Independent Review Team for its work and its diligence. We are studying the report and reviewing its recommendations. We are taking it seriously.
"We vow to continue our ongoing and extensive efforts to foster a welcoming environment for all students in the Davis School District."
FOX 13 News reached out to representatives of the Tichenor family, who said they had no comment on the findings.
Black Lives Matter Utah gave a statement in response, saying: "We are disappointed but not surprised. #StandForIzzy"
If you or someone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide, help is available 24/7 by calling 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visiting suicidepreventionlifeline.org