FARMINGTON, Utah (ABC4) – A former employee is coming out of retirement and returning to the Davis School District amid an ongoing investigation following a 10-year-old student’s suicide.
The district has appointed Dr. Jacqueline Thompson to serve as assistant superintendent. According to the Davis School District, Dr. Thompson will work on diversity and equity issues as well as “work that will take place following the district’s recent settlement with the Department of Justice.”
Dr. Thompson will begin her position in early December.
“We believe Dr. Thompson will be key in moving us in a definitive direction as we move forward in our efforts to do better for all students,” Davis School District Superintendent Reid Newey says. “She is a valuable resource and someone who understands better than anyone where we need to go.”
What’s happening at Davis School District
Earlier this year, the U.S. Department of Justice accused the Davis School District of “persistent failures to respond to reports of race-based harassment of Black and Asian-American students by district staff and other students.” After an investigation spanning two years, where investigators focused on 2015-2020, DOJ found hundreds of documented uses of the N-word, multiple racial epithets, derogatory racial comments, and physical assaults targeting students at dozens of schools.
According to the DOJ, investigators found the Davis School District disciplined Black students more harshly than their white peers for similar behavior and that Black students were denied the ability to form student groups while supporting similar requests by other students. Calling the district’s responses “ineffective,” the DOJ says officials left students vulnerable to continued harassment and that students believed the district condoned the behavior.
The district reached a settlement with the DOJ and agreed to comply with a sweeping five-year improvement plan. Parents in the district recently spoke with ABC4 about their feelings toward the settlement.
Death of 10-year-old Izzy Tichenor
Just weeks after the Davis School District reached a settlement with the DOJ, 10-year-old Izzy Tichenor, a student at Foxboro Elementary, died by suicide. Speaking with ABC4, Tichenor’s mother says her daughter was often a target of bullying as a person of color living with autism and dyslexia.
Days later, the district announced it would launch an independent investigation into the bullying incidents surrounding Tichenor’s death. Last week, Newey announced the district will increase staff diversity amid the bullying allegations.
Governor Spencer Cox spoke out about Tichenor’s death and the ongoing investigation at the school district. During a Thursday press conference, the governor says he met with Dewey and other members of district leadership.
“I left that meeting with full confidence of the superintendent and in the direction they are moving to address this,” Cox says, adding the state investigates all cases of suicide, especially of young people, with experts in what he calls “a very robust process.”
More about Dr. Jackie Thompson
Dr. Thompson retired from the district in 2018. At the time, she was serving as the Director of Education Equity with duties and responsibilities including the District’s Parent Equity Committee, multicultural education, civil rights issues, Respecting Ethnic and Cultural Heritage (REACH) training, Advancement via Individual Determination (AVID), and the V(i)llage Program.
Before joining the district in 2000, Dr. Thompson taught public school in Idaho and California, worked as a gender equity specialist and education specialist in the Utah State Office of Education, and as an Equal Employment Opportunity specialist at Hill Air Force Base.
In 1999, Dr. Thompson even served as Mrs. Utah. Thirteen years later, then-Governor Gary Herbert appointed Dr. Thompson to the State Multicultural Commission. She is a native of Nashville and is married to Edward Thomspon, a retired contracting supervisor at Hill Air Force Base. The couple has two sons, two daughters-in-law, and four grandchildren.