Isabella Faith Tichenor was found dead by her mother on Saturday
A 10-year-old Black autistic girl committed suicide over the weekend after repeatedly being racially bullied at school.
The girlâ€™s mom, Brittany Tichenor-Cox, reached out to Davis School District several times to report that her daughter, Isabella Faith Tichenor, was bullied by classmates and her teacher for being a Black special needs student. Tichenor-Cox said school officials failed her child by allowing the harassment to foster for months without intervention, The Salt Lake Tribune reports.
â€œEven though my baby is gone, Iâ€™m going to make sure I stand for Izzy,â€� Tichenor-Cox said. â€œI will never get to see her again â€¦I will neverâ€¦she was 10 years old. She was only 10,â€� she said.Â
Isabella, who reportedly committed suicide by hanging, was found dead Saturday by her mother.
Izzyâ€™s grandfather Gregory Tichenor told The Sun that the bullying had been â€œgoing on for months and nothing has been done.â€�
â€œIt was both verbal and physical,â€� he added.
Gregory said Izzy “was close to her five siblings.”
“She had told her mom she loved her and she loved God and that was the last time they spoke. Then she was found,” he said.
The death of the fifth-grader comes weeks after the U.S. Department of Justice outlined in a bombshell report that Davis School District administrators have intentionally ignored â€œserious and widespreadâ€� racial harassment in its schools for years.
Black students have reportedly been under attack by suspected white supremacists within the student body. Administrators are said to have failed to respond to hundreds of reports from students about being called slaves, the N-word, and threatened with lynchings if they didnâ€™t go â€œpick cottonâ€� as instructed by their white classmates.Â
â€œAs a consequence of this dismissive attitude to serious racial harassment, a district-wide racially hostile environment went unabated,â€� the department concluded in the report. The report notes that â€œthe district left students of color vulnerable to continued abuse.â€�
â€œSome students, now in middle and high school, said they had experienced racial harassment each year since they were in kindergarten,â€� the DOJ report noted, per The Salt Lake Tribune. â€œStudents who attended school in other districts told us that the harassment they experienced in Davis schools was worse by far.â€�
In a recent statement, the district said it â€œtakes these findings very seriously.â€�
â€œThey do not reflect the values of this community and the expectations of the district,â€� the statement said of the report’s findings. â€œThe district pledges to correct these practices.â€�
The predominantly white school district in northern Utah is accused of condoning the racism and discrimination against Black students.
The district issued a statement Monday about Isabella’s death and the family’s response, saying it â€œwill continue to provide help to them and others impacted by this tragedy.â€�
â€œWe, like everyone, are devastated by the death of this child,â€� the district said. â€œWe 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.â€�
Local activists have slammed the districtâ€™s statement, as officials never addressed the concerns about Izzy’s bullying before she committed suicide.Â
â€œI donâ€™t think theyâ€™re listening,â€� said Darlene McDonald, an activist with the Utah Black Roundtable and the Utah Educational Equity Coalition. â€œTheir colorblindness is causing the death of our children.â€�
â€œThe biggest issue is that the district just hasnâ€™t addressed anything, racist incidents and bullying. They just donâ€™t respond to it,â€� said Kathleen Christy, leader of the Utah Ethnic Studies Coalition.
â€œWhatâ€™s real is what caused this young girlâ€™s death,â€� said McDonald. â€œThe real problem is being ignored.â€�
“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,” Tichenor-Cox said.
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