Family of bullied Utah girl who died by suicide plan to file lawsuit

Brittany Tichenor-Cox plans to seek $14 million in damages for the death of her 10-year-old daughter, Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor, who killed herself after being bullied.

(Rick Bowmer | AP) Brittany Tichenor-Cox, holds a photo of her daughter, Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor, during an interview Monday, Nov. 29, 2021, in Draper, Utah. Tichenor-Cox said her 10-year-old daughter took her own life after being bullied for being black and autistic at school. She talks about the school not doing enough to stop bullying.

The family of a black fifth-grade student in Utah who committed suicide last year plans to file a $14 million lawsuit against her school, arguing that an inadequate response to reports that she was allegedly bullied due to her race and disabilities led to her death by suicide.

Lawyers representing Brittany Tichenor-Cox said Wednesday they would seek damages for the 2021 death of her daughter, Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor. In a notice of claim, they said the school violated state and federal laws, including those that require schools to provide equal treatment, provide educational opportunity and protect homeless students.

(Tichenor family) Pictured is Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor in this undated family photo.

Notices of claim are needed before people can sue government entities and the family’s claim says the lawsuit will seek $14 million in damages. Tichenor-Cox’s Notice of Claim names Foxboro Elementary School in North Salt Lake City as a defendant, along with its principal and principal. He also names as defendants the Davis County School District, the school board and the superintendent. They have 60 days to respond before the family can take legal action based on the claim.

The school district did not immediately respond to a request 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 frequently make headlines, it prompted state lawmakers to pass a new law requiring districts to track reported bullying and racism. in schools.

(Leah Hogsten | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brittany Tichenor-Cox, center, joined by her sister Jasmine Rhodes, right, talks about her daughter Izzy Tichenor, Nov. 9, 2021. Hundreds have joined the Tichenor family to mourn the death of 10-year-old Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor, Tuesday, at a vigil at Foxboro Hollow Park in North Salt Lake.

The notice of claim recounts how Tichenor, who had autism and the only black student in her class, was bullied by students who said she smelled bad, made fun of her skin color and her raised eyebrows and used racial slurs against her. It provides a timeline of Tichenor’s parents repeatedly alerting the school to the bullying in the months leading up to their daughter’s death and alleges administrators took no action to stop it.

“Because of this unchecked bullying and the school’s general ‘deliberate indifference’ to minority students, Izzy failed nearly all of her classes. At the time of her death, she could barely read or do math. at the freshman level,” he says.

The Davis School District teaches approximately 73,000 students in the northern suburbs of Salt Lake City. Only about 1% are black. It was reprimanded last year by the US Department of Justice for failing to address widespread racial discrimination and forced, as part of a settlement agreement, to change its policies, provide more training and create a new department to deal with complaints.

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 complaints.


Brady McCombs contributed reporting from Salt Lake City.

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