DSD superintendent addresses suicide death of 10-year-old student
Harrison Epstein, Standard-Examiner
FARMINGTON — In their first meeting since the suicide of 10-year-old Izzy Tichenor, members of the Davis School Board and Superintendent Reid Newey addressed the incident and what will be done in the future to prevent additional tragedies.
“We continue to mourn the loss of Izzy Tichenor and express our deep empathy, sympathy and condolences to her family and her classmates, teachers and administrators at Foxboro and the community at large,” Newey said after the meeting. “The most tragic event we deal with is losing any student and we’re deeply saddened by that. We hope to continue to progress in our efforts to make every student’s experience in our school optimal.”
Tichenor, who was a student with autism at Foxboro Elementary, was found dead by suicide on Nov. 6 by her mother, Brittany Tichenor, who alleged at a press conference on Nov. 8 that her daughter died because of bullying at the DSD school. She said that Izzy and her 7-year-old sister both experienced bullying that was racially motivated at the school.
“When we have issues such as bullying accusations and so forth, we always do our best — and in particular with suicide, we always gather our team and assess and figure out what we can do do better,” Newey said.
According to Newey, the issues and allegations made by Brittany Tichenor were raised to Foxboro Elementary, not the district level.
Harrison Epstein, Standard-Examiner
At the start of the meeting, board president John Robison read a statement regarding Izzy’s death. In it, he said, “As for the district and its schools, every incident of harassment and bullying is investigated. There is a process that is followed at the school level and the district level depending on the seriousness of any reported event.”
Izzy Tichenor’s death by suicide came just weeks after the U.S. Department of Justice released a report detailing years of inaction by the Davis School District regarding racial harassment between 2015 and 2020.
When asked about the connection between the DOJ report about racism in the school district, Newey said, “We don’t and have never pretended or suggested that we don’t have racism in our schools, jut like we have it in society, but it is our job to do all we can and try and eradicate it from all our schools.”
When asked if he planned to resign as superintendent, Newey, who started his tenure in December 2017, simply stated that he would not. Declining to go into detail, Newey said that issues are addressed with “employee action.”
According to Newey and the prepared statement, the district will establish an independent team to investigate the allegations of bullying surrounding Izzy’s death. Newey also endorsed the idea of wholesale change to make sure students of color, approximately 13%-15% of the district, are safe and comfortable.
Also discussed during the Tuesday work session was eliminating livestreaming of the DSD work sessions and business meetings. Three members of the board spoke in favor of keeping the streams in an effort to promote transparency. Robison spoke in favor of the measure, ending the streams, by saying there will still be audio recordings of the meetings online and that in-person attendance is still an option.
Robison added that the meetings typically peak at 30-50 viewers and end around 13-15 viewers. A vote on the issue will be moved to the December board meeting.
The board will also vote in December on potentially changing the strategic plan to have a greater emphasis on diversity and equity.