HEALTH

Davis School District will investigate suicide of autistic girl

Nov 16, 2021, 7:56 PM | Updated: Jan 4, 2023, 2:45 pm
Lawyers for the family of 10-year-old Izzy Tichenor intend to sue the Davis School District if the ...
Lawyers for the family of 10-year-old Izzy Tichenor intend to sue the Davis School District if the district won't settle with the Tichenor family.(Undated photo of Isabella "Izzy" Tichenor. Family photo)
(Undated photo of Isabella "Izzy" Tichenor. Family photo)

FARMINGTON, Utah — The Davis School District is announcing more steps they’re taking to investigate the suicide of a 10-year-old autistic girl.  The girl’s family says she was constantly bullied at school about her autism and her skin color.

Suicide of autistic girl

Izzy Tichenor took her own life in early November and officials with the Davis School District, once again, stated their condolences for the family.  At the beginning of the regularly scheduled board of education meeting, Board President John Robison read a statement. It said they’ll continue to provide support to her family and “the school community” as they find a way to move forward.

Robison said, “Extensive resources were provided to the family since enrolling their children.  In fact, the family chose to continue having their children attend our schools after moving outside the district.”

Robison added that there is a process to evaluate and investigate claims of harassment. Each case is handled either at the school level or the district level, depending on the severity of each accusation.

“Every incident of harassment and bullying is investigated,” Robison said.

“Serious and widespread racial harassment”

In October, the Department of Justice issued a scathing report about a “culture of racism” within the district.  Black students say non-black students called them the N word on a regular basis. They were also frequently told their skin looked dirty.  District Superintendent Reid Newey said they fully accept the DOJ findings, and will strive to change the culture.

(Members of the Davis School District Board of Education, after they spoke about their independent team that will investigate the suicide. Photo: Adam Sotelo, KSL TV)

“We don’t, and have never, pretended or suggested that we don’t have racism in our schools. Just like we have it in society,” Newey said.

District officials also announced more details about an independent team they’re forming to investigate what led to Tichenor’s suicide.  That team will have an expert on interviewing children about trauma, an expert in educational practices and a legal expert.  Newey couldn’t confirm an exact date on when this team will be formed. However, he said they’re close to selecting the team members.

Newey said, “We do a significant and very dissecting analysis of what could have been missed by us.”

The impact of bullying on kids with autism

Doctors with University of Utah Health and the Huntsman Mental Health Institute say bullying is damaging to anyone who experiences it. But it can be especially traumatic for kids on the autism spectrum.  Occupational and Recreational Therapies Assistant Professor Anne Kirby said many people wrongly assumed autistic children didn’t understand if they were being bullied.

“I think we’re learning more and more that that’s not the case,” Kirby said.

Children on the spectrum are reportedly 1.5 times more vulnerable to suicide, according to Kirby. 

She said, “Our research, that we’ve done here in Utah, found that autistic women and girls, in particular, were at increased risk compared to non-autistic women and girls.”

Many children don’t want to talk with their parents about being bullied, believing the parents will just make matters worse.  Neuropsychologist Scott Lagenecker says parents will have to keep a close eye on their child’s behavior to spot any possible signs.  For instance, many kids who are targeted lose their motivation to go to school.

Lagenecker said, “It comes across in very subtle ways.  If they have trouble falling asleep at night, that may be because they’re worrying about the bullying.”

If a child isn’t feeling safe at school, doctors say parents need to find other groups or places where a child feels comfortable expressing themselves.  They say helping kids feel comfortable in their own skin could help mitigate the amount of bullying they see.

Izzy’s parents respond

The Tichenor family responded to the news the Davis School District is forming an independent investigation through their lawyer.  

They said they want to help in the fight against racism alongside the school district.  But made it clear that can’t happen in Davis County schools if the District doesn’t take responsibility for its inability to teach students about acceptance.  

Here is the full statement through their attorney, Tyler Ayers:

The family of Izzy Tichenor, while appreciative of the Districts interest and concern for Izzy now, simply wish the statement they issued today, reflected their attitude and actions three weeks ago.

We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Today’s Top Stories

Health

working from home...
Dale Spaulding

Is illness or poor air quality causing that cough?

Inversion can impact a person's health. Is the bad air the cause for people coughing are they catching regular illnesses?
13 hours ago
A woman wearing white sitting in front of a light box...
Michelle Lee

Winter blues: light therapy and lifestyle changes can help

SALT LAKE CITY – With the chilly weather and the shorter days, many people are prone to experience the winter blues. In the latest Let’s Get Moving with Maria podcast episode, host Maria Shilaos spoke with Dr. Jason Hunziker from the Huntsman Mental Health Institute about ways people can overcome the winter blues. Seasonal depression […]
2 days ago
A new study finds that reports of bad weather and air actually decrease ridership on the UTA....
Devin Oldroyd

Relief from inversion and poor air quality may be in Utah’s near future

The Beehive State is in the middle of some thick inversion and poor air quality, but relief may be on the way according to the National Weather Service.
4 days ago
A study by Intermountain Health that spanned 40 years and sought answers about the health of people...
Simone Seikaly

Intermountain’s 40-year study provides insight into weight-loss surgery

In some cases the results from the weight-loss surgery study were expected. But at least one result could be a cause for alarm and caution.
4 days ago
The U.S. Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service has issued a recall for mil...
Simone Seikaly

Check your pantry, a Conagra canned meat recall may affect you

Millions of pounds of canned meat and poultry products (mainly Vienna sausages) are involved in the Conagra recall.
4 days ago
Two temporary federal pandemic emergency assistance programs are coming to an end in the coming mon...
Waverly Golden

As two federal pandemic emergency-assistance programs near an end, Cox has solutions

Two temporary federal pandemic emergency assistance programs are coming to an end in the coming months due to more job opportunities.
4 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Banner with Cervical Cancer Awareness Realistic Ribbon...
Intermountain Health

Five Common Causes of Cervical Cancer – and What You Can Do to Lower Your Risk

January is National Cervical Cancer Awareness month and cancer experts at Intermountain Health are working to educate women about cervical cancer, the tests that can warn women about potential cancer, and the importance of vaccination.
Kid holding a cisco fish at winterfest...
Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Get Ready for Fun at the 2023 Bear Lake Monster Winterfest

The Bear Lake Monster Winterfest is an annual weekend event jam-packed full of fun activities the whole family can enjoy. This year the event will be held from January 27-29 at the Utah Bear Lake State Park Marina and Sunrise Resort and Event Center in Garden City, Utah. 
happy friends with sparklers at christmas dinner...
Macey's

15 Easy Christmas Dinner Ideas

We’ve scoured the web for you and narrowed down a few of our favorite Christmas dinner ideas to make your planning easy. Choose from the dishes we’ve highlighted to plan your meal or start brainstorming your own meal plan a couple of weeks before to make sure you have time to shop and prepare.
Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 Game Day Snacks for the Whole Family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The Best Tools for Deaf and Hard-of-Hearing Workplace Success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
Davis School District will investigate suicide of autistic girl