School attended by autistic 10-year-old who took her own life allowed bullying to go unchecked, report finds

An internal report found the school allowed for an atmosphere in which ‘bullying ... could go underreported, uninvestigated, and unaddressed’

Graig Graziosi
Tuesday 12 April 2022 20:04
Comments

Related video: Florida dad makes son wear ‘I’m a bully’ sign as punishment for bullying

After a 10-year-old girl took her own life in November, an internal investigation into her school found that it was an environment in which "bullying ... could go underreported, uninvestigated, and unaddressed”.

Foxboro Elementary School in Farmington, Utah, became the focus of scrutiny after the death by suicide of 10-year-old Isabella Tichenor. Her mother claimed the girl, who was both Black and autistic, had been bullied for her race and autism just before her death. Those claims prompted outrage from the surrounding community, and an internal investigation was launched by the school district.

According to CNN, the results of that review found that Isabella had been told by both classmates and teachers that she smelled and needed to bathe. They found "no direct evidence" that the girl had been bullied specifically due to her race or her autism.

However, the team also included the caveat that “issues relating to race, disability, and poverty sometimes intersect and when they do, can further complicate already challenging situations. It can be very difficult to extricate one from the others.”

The report claimed that "when a student told Izzy she needed to wash her hair, this comment could have been borne out of racial animus, could have been an innocuous observation, or could have been a cloaked insult about poverty."

More damning for the school was the review's conclusion that it did not adequately protect Isabella from bullying. It claims the school dismissed the claims and did not investigate her mother's allegations in a timely manner.

The report also found that Foxboro school staff did not have "actual knowledge" of the district's definition of "bullying”, which helped foster an atmosphere in the school in which "bullying ... could go underreported, univestigated, and unaddressed."

The school reportedly received complaints about bullying but only created an official report months after the initial allegations – and after Isabella's death.

Isabella's mother claimed the same student had been harassing her daughter and even told her at one point he had a gun. Staff at the school reviewed surveillance video and searched the student's backpack three days after the allegations, but said they could not support the allegations.

A week after that incident, Isabella's mother filed another complaint, saying "the same student called Izzy's sister the 'N-word' and touched her." The school also could not confirm that incident after reviewing surveillance video and speaking with two "potential witnesses."

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 died by suicide after she was harassed for being Black and autistic at school. She is speaking out about the school not doing enough to stop the bullying. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

Despite their findings, school officials ruled that the incident seemed "more likely than not" to have happened and suspended the student. The school made the families of both students sign a contract promising that the two would avoid each other.

Isabella died just weeks after the Justice Department publicly outlined a pattern within the school district in which Black and Asian American students had been bullied for years. It claimed that officials ignored the complaints from parents and students. The agency began investigating the school in the summer of 2019, and later released its report and a settlement agreement with the district.

The Davis School District issued a statement saying it was "taking [the allegations] seriously”.

“We vow to continue our ongoing and extensive efforts to foster a welcoming environment for all students in the Davis School District,” it said.

The review team that compiled the report is recommending that the school district train its staff to identify bullying and to provide diversity and equity training sessions.

The report also recommends that Foxboro Elementary establish clear protocols and record-keeping for bullying complaints.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Please enter a valid email
Please enter a valid email
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Must be at least 6 characters, include an upper and lower case character and a number
Please enter your first name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
Please enter your last name
Special characters aren’t allowed
Please enter a name between 1 and 40 characters
You must be over 18 years old to register
You must be over 18 years old to register
Opt-out-policy
You can opt-out at any time by signing in to your account to manage your preferences. Each email has a link to unsubscribe.

By clicking ‘Create my account’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Register for free to continue reading

Registration is a free and easy way to support our truly independent journalism

By registering, you will also enjoy limited access to Premium articles, exclusive newsletters, commenting, and virtual events with our leading journalists

Already have an account? sign in

By clicking ‘Register’ you confirm that your data has been entered correctly and you have read and agree to our Terms of use, Cookie policy and Privacy notice.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy policy and Terms of service apply.

Join our new commenting forum

Join thought-provoking conversations, follow other Independent readers and see their replies

Comments

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in