Family of Bullied Utah Girl Who Died by Suicide Claims

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The family of a black Utah fifth-grader who died by suicide last year plans to file a $14 million lawsuit against her school, arguing that an inadequate response to reports that being bullied because of her race and disability led to her death by suicide.

Lawyers representing Brittany Tichenor-Cox said Wednesday they would seek damages for the death of her daughter Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor in 2021. In a lawsuit, they said the school violated state and federal laws, including those requiring schools to ensure equity, provide educational opportunities and protect students affected by homelessness.

Claim filings are required before people can sue government agencies, and the family’s lawsuit says the lawsuit seeks $14 million in damages. Tichenor-Cox’s complaint names Foxboro Elementary School of North Salt Lake City as a defendant and its director and principal. The Davis County School District, the school board and the superintendent are also named as defendants. You have 60 days to respond before the family can file a lawsuit based on the claim.

The school district did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Tichenor’s death in November 2021 sparked a massive outcry and outpouring of anger over youth suicide, bullying and the treatment of children with autism. In Utah, a predominantly white state where incidents of racism in schools often make headlines, this prompted state legislatures to pass new legislation requiring counties to prosecute reported bullying and racism in schools.

The lawsuit reports how Tichenor, who was autistic and the only black student in her class, was bullied by students who said she smelled, made fun of her skin color and eyebrows, and used racial slurs against her. It includes a timeline of Tichenor’s parents who repeatedly brought bullying to the attention of the school in the months leading up to their daughter’s death, and claim administrators did nothing about it.

“As a result of this uncontrolled bullying and the school’s overall ‘willful indifference’ to minority students, Izzy failed nearly all of her classes. At the time of her death she could barely read or do arithmetic at first grade level.

The Davis School District educates approximately 73,000 students in Salt Lake City’s northern suburbs. Only about 1% are black. She was reprimanded by the US Department of Justice last year for failing to address widespread racial discrimination and forced to change her policies, offer more training and create a new division to handle grievances under a settlement agreement.

The district defended its actions last year after Tichenor’s death, arguing that it responded appropriately to Tichenor’s family and worked “extensively” with them on their grievances.


Brady McCombs contributed coverage from Salt Lake City. Family of Bullied Utah Girl Who Died by Suicide Claims

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