Tichenor was a student at Foxboro Elementary who committed suicide after her mother said that she had been bullied at school because she was a person of color living with autism and dyslexia.
Cox was asked whether the Davis School District was doing enough and whether the superintendent of the school district should resign.
He responded by saying it has been a “powerful” week for him and that he and his wife, Abby, were heartbroken by what happened. The governor says he met with Tichenor’s mom and other relatives to show his support for the family.
Cox says he also met with Reid Dewey, the superintendent of the school district, and other members of district leadership about what they have been doing and what future plans are with regard to the investigation into Tichenor’s suicide.
“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.”
Cox notes the school district was making “great things” happen but when attorneys get involved, “nothing great ever happens.”
“Their ability to share some of the things they are doing has been compromised by attorneys who are telling them that they can’t talk about it,” Cox said.
The Davis County School District continues to investigate Tichenor’s death.
All communications from the school district have to go through the Department of Justice before they can be released to the public. Governor Cox states there are privacy laws limiting what information the school district can share.
Since 2019, the DOJ has been investigating the Davis School District and found it disciplined its Black students harsher than its white students for similar behavior. They also found Black students were denied the ability to form student groups while supporting similar requests by other students.
With that, Cox says the school district was doing more than what has been made available to the public and they planned to do more. He also complimented the superintendent as “one of the best superintendents we have in the state” and “an incredible human being.”
But Cox mentions that the DOJ investigating Davis School District does not mean it is the only place where there are problems.
“These issues are not just Utah issues,” Cox shares. “They are issues in our country.” He implored parents to have discussions with their children about issues regarding bullying.
“You may not know that your [child] is being a bully and you may not know that your child is being bullied,” Cox explains. “Sometimes the bullies have been bullied by someone else and they’re just reciprocating that behavior on others.”
The governor says he has been open about his own experiences of being bullied as a child and having suicidal ideation. He adds people need to do better and have more discussions about race, disabilities, and bullying and that the Davis School District would lead in that effort.