The family of a Black autistic fifth grader in Utah who died by suicide last year plans to file a $14 million lawsuit against her school according to the Associated Press. The family claims the school inadequately responded to reports of the girl being bullied over her race and disabilities.
Attorneys representing Brittany Tichenor-Cox on Wednesday said they would seek damages for the 2021 death of her daughter, Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor.
The 13-page document claims the school had violated state and federal laws, including those that require schools to ensure equal treatment, provide educational opportunities and protect students experiencing homelessness. It alleges that teachers ignored the bullying and harassment Izzy, 10, experienced by other classmates, despite her mother making many calls to the school to report the incidents.
The claim does, however, acknowledge the school investigated at least one incident of bullying where a boy called Izzy the N-word, local NBC affiliate KSLTV reported. It states the school principal did not properly punish the student and instead made it appear the student was rewarded for his behavior.
It also details that Tichenor-Cox, that the same boy allegedly told Izzy he brought a gun and threatened to use it.
The document says the school again investigated but was not thorough and failed to make any finding of whether a threat was made.
It also alleges the school failed to connect the family to available state and federal assistance even though staff was aware Izzy and her family were experiencing houselessness.
Instead, teachers allegedly commented on the child’s hygiene and odor in front of other students and created a hostile classroom environment.
ESSENCE previously reported, just weeks before Izzy took her own life, the Department of Justice published a report showing that the Davis School District has a pattern of ignoring reports of “race-based harassment of Black and Asian-American students by district staff and other students.”
The Davis School District in Salt Lake City teaches roughly 73,000 students where only about 1% are Black, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.
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