The tragic story of Isabella Tichenor: Autistic girl, 10, hanged herself after classmates bullied her
A federal civil rights investigation recently revealed 'serious and widespread racial harassment' in Davis School District
NORTH SALT LAKE, UTAH: Isabella Tichenor, an autistic Utah girl, killed herself after she was bullied by the students and teachers at her school. The 10-year-old was found hanging in a closet at her home in North Salt Lake on Saturday, November 6, 2021. An investigative report revealed that Isabella was told by her classmates and teachers that she smelled and needed to bathe, but found no "direct evidence" that she was bullied because of her race or autism.
The report found that Isabella sprayed her clothes with Febreze after being told that she smelled bad. It stated, "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." It mentioned that "issues relating to race, disability, and poverty sometimes intersect and when they do, can further complicate already challenging situations."
Isabella's mother, Brittany Tichenor-Cox, said she reported the bullying her autistic daughter faced, but Davis School District did not deal with the complaints. "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," Brittany told KUTV. "I didn't know she thought like that, I was so involved with her at school. You don't know what a child is going through mentally. Right before she passed, we were just talking about doing her book report," she added.
As per KSL, "What happened to her, she did not deserve that. She deserved so much more. She deserved opportunities as any other kid deserves opportunities. She deserved to watch her siblings grow up. She just deserved so much more than what she got," said Jasmine Rhodes, Isabella's aunt. "We are going to be Izzy's voice, we are going to ring this bell as loud as we can because we are going to stop this bullying. That little girl had spark, that little girl had hopes and dreams," added Paula Harris, Isabella's grandmother.
Davis School District's statement to People reads, "We, like everyone, are devastated by the death of this child. Our hearts go out to the family. Foxboro Elementary has worked extensively with the family and will continue to provide help to them and others impacted by this tragedy. We 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."
"Isabella Faith Tichenor was an amazing, kind, and beautiful 10yr old. She touched the hearts of everyone she came in contact with. She was her mommy’s best friend, the best big sister, and a light in this world. Her beautiful life came to an end way too soon and was a shock to everyone. We are asking for help with raising money to provide Izzy with the most beautiful celebration of life. She deserves nothing but the best. Please share and donate. Every penny helps! Thank you and God bless!" Isabella's GoFundMe fundraiser reads.
"Izzy was born in Salt Lake City, Utah on May 15, 2011 to parents Brittany Tichenor and Diondre Jones. She was a beautifully unique soul - full of love and kindness. She was bright and gifted. She touched the hearts of so many. She loved to sing, dance, and be the best sister to her siblings. She wanted to be a professional dancer in New York or a professional cheerleader when she grew up. She also enjoyed gymnastics, time with family, and spending time in praise and worship to Jesus Christ, her Savior," says Isabella's obituary.
Brittany and her husband, Charles Cox's statement, obtained by People, said, "Izzy was always thinking of others. Let us offer love to those who may feel they are not worthy of it. Let us offer a kind word or gesture to those who need to hear and feel it. Let us have conversations about racism, disabilities, bullying, and mental illness, even if they are hard and maybe uncomfortable conversations to have. We must have them. Talk to your children, learn who they are, and remind them that they are loved. We ask that you Stand for Izzy."
Isabella's death comes after a federal civil rights investigation recently revealed "serious and widespread racial harassment" in Davis School District. The two-year investigation cited over 200 documented uses of the N-word and other racial harassment incidents dating back to 2015-16.
If you or someone you know is considering suicide, please contact the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or text the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741).