Isabella “Izzy” Tichenor, a 10-year-old black and autistic student in Utah, died by suicide last Saturday after allegedly being bullied by classmates and her family’s complaints were ignored, the family’s lawyer told CNN.
“Izzy was a happy child. She was a happy little girl, she did well in school … All she wanted was to be connected with family and friends,” attorney Tyler Ayres told CNN ahead of the private funeral planned for Saturday morning.
Izzy’s mother and stepfather, Brittany Clark Tichenor Cox and Charles Cox, said they became aware their daughter was being bullied around September, Ayres told CNN.
“They found her taking a bottle of Febreze to school, and when they asked her why they said she said because the kids said she stank,” Ayres told CNN, adding her teacher instructed her to sit away from other students in the back of the classroom.
Ayres also said the children allegedly used the n-word and teased Izzy repeatedly.
According to Ayres, Brittany and Charles sought out Izzy’s teacher to lodge their complaints, but “when they realized that they weren’t making any progress … they went to the principal. The principal turned them to the vice principal, and with the vice principal, they felt very unheard and just very disregarded.”
CNN has reached out to The Board of Education of the Davis School District and the Foxboro Elementary school to corroborate Ayres’s specific allegations, but the school district declined to comment on the specifics, citing privacy concerns, and instead shared a press release sent to local media Friday.
“The death of Izzy is tragic and devastating. Our hearts continue to be with the family, friends, and community who are grieving this loss. The well-being of our students will always be a priority, and we are committed to preventing this from happening in the future,” the school district said.
“As part of this commitment, we will be bringing in an independent investigation to look further into this and review our handling of critical issues, such as bullying, to provide a safe and welcoming environment for all students,” the school district said.
To get help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). There is also a crisis text line. For crisis support in Spanish, call 1-888-628-9454.
The CNN Wire contributed to this report.