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FARMINGTON — An independent investigation into the suicide of 10-year-old Isabella "Izzy" Tichenor last November found "no direct evidence to support the allegations that Izzy was bullied on the basis of race and/or disability," according to a Davis School District report released Friday.
The district announced its investigation in December 2021 following the Tichenor family's claim that Izzy, who was Black and the family has said had autism, died by suicide after facing discrimination and bullying at Foxboro Elementary in North Salt Lake and that school officials "knew of the bullying and failed to respond."
A summary of the investigative team's findings said that:
- There was no direct evidence to support allegations that Izzy was bullied on the basis or race and/or disability. The three-member independent investigative team was told to look at the allegations into bullying due to race and/or disability. The report found that Izzy's mother Brittany Tichenor-Cox had only complained to the school about her daughter being bullied due to poor hygiene. Because of this, the investigative team said it was "not authorized to investigate Mrs. Tichenor-Cox's allegations that Izzy may have been bullied on any ground that was not race or disability" nor to investigate "specific complaints about certain individuals at Foxboro."
- Investigators found evidence that Izzy's sister was bullied on the basis of her race, but said that Foxboro school officials investigated and responded to the incidents and the investigative team could not verify whether Izzy witnessed or was aware of the confrontations that led the school to suspend the offending student and order him to have no contact with the sister.
- Investigators also found that educators at the school were "unfamiliar with the district's definition of 'bullying.'"
- School officials failed to "timely document or record" the family's allegations and track communications with the family.
The report says that the team interviewed 47 witnesses and spent 400 combined hours investigating, interviewing witnesses, reviewing 2,600 pages of documents and discussing their findings, but that Brittany Tichenor-Cox declined to be interviewed on advice of her attorney, "citing an anticipated suit against the district."
While the team did not find "direct evidence" that Izzy was bullied on the basis of race or disability, it responded to the reports of bullying on the basis of hygiene in its recommendations to the district, stating the district should provide training to its administrators and educators on how to identify and address bullying; provide diversity and equity training to its administrators and educators; provide trauma-informed poverty training to its administrators and educators; and Foxboro Elementary should establish clear protocols for record-keeping and reporting.
The report said that the Tichenor family had raised concerns that Izzy may be autistic but did not provide a medical diagnosis and that Izzy died after the school had performed observation and testing but before it could complete its assessment.
The school district expressed its condolences to the Tichenor family in a statement issued with the report.
"Once again, the Davis School District expresses its sorrow and sincere, heartfelt condolences to the family of Izzy Tichenor," the district's statement read. "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."
Through an attorney, the Tichenor family declined to comment Friday.
The investigative team issued a joint statement: "After thoughtful deliberation, the investigation team unanimously agreed on the findings and recommendations contained in the report and executive summary provided to the district. The investigation team looks forward to the district's response and actions related to our recommendations."