NORTH SALT LAKE (ABC4) – The mother of a 10-year-old student at Foxboro Elementary is speaking out Monday, after losing her daughter to suicide over the weekend. Brittany Tichenor said her daughter, Izzy was often reportedly the target of bullying as a person of color living with autism and dyslexia.
This comes after the U.S. Department of Justice announced in October that its investigation found Davis School District ignored or failed to act on hundreds of reports of racially-motivated harassment and discrimination over the course of five years. As a result, the district agreed on a settlement to implement significant institutional reforms.
“This has got to stop. They’re getting away with too much,” said Tichenor. “No kid deserves this. I don’t care how old they are, eight or 18. Nobody deserves this.”
Tichenor described Izzy as someone who was beautiful inside and out. She was very kind and went out of her way to help others, even when they treated her poorly. She wanted to be more than her disabilities, leaning on encouragement and support from her mom to improve her self-confidence and work on attending college one day.
“She just had this light about her that was different about her. Her meekness just really shined upon that. I just loved that about her, cause she was humble and not many people are humble,” said Tichenor.
However, Tichenor said she didn’t know that Izzy was suffering silently.
“You wouldn’t even know she was going through it. Obviously I missed it, somehow. She was happy. She was smiling. She would always say, “You’re the best mommy in the whole wide world,” she said. “So that was the hardest part. She must have really internalized this.”
Now, she’s hoping to de-stigmatize conversations around children’s mental health and work towards anti-bullying efforts. Tichenor said she plans on creating a nonprofit in the future, called “I Stand with Izzy.”
“I’m doing this in speaking out because my child harmed herself and I don’t want nobody, another parent to go through what I have to. Now, we’re going to be burying our 10-year-old. Like it’s surreal,” she said. “Parents, please talk to your kids and even if you see a little sign, get them help as fast as you can.”
In a statement to ABC4 News, Davis School District wrote:
“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.“
As of Monday evening, a GoFundMe fundraiser has raised more than $23,000 for the family. A vigil will be held in honor of Izzy at North Foxboro Regional Park in North Salt Lake at 7 p.m. Tuesday evening. Tichenor’s family will be holding a “Going Home Celebration” instead of a funeral Saturday.
“I just want to spread Izzy’s love to other kids. I want to spread what Izzy had, her infectious love, her infectious laugh to the other kids,” said Tichenor.