A $2 million settlement between the family of 10-year-old Izzy Tichenor, who died by suicide in November 2021, and the Davis School District was unanimously approved by leaders of the Utah Legislature Tuesday.

A notice of claim filed by the family last year seeking $14 million said the fifth grader “was bullied, abused, harassed, and excluded from activities because she was female, learning disabled, poor, homeless and Black.”

Her mother, Brittany Tichenor-Cox, spoke of her loss Tuesday evening at an emotional news conference.

“I’m still having issues with as far as grieving over her. Just because you win some money doesn’t compare to the child not being here,” she said, adding she is starting a nonprofit, Izzy’s Village Foundation, to help other children, KSL-TV reported.

The family’s lawyer, Tyler Ayres, said they were “pleased with what the Davis school district is saying. But we are watching them and we will be watching them for years to come.”

The operating chairperson of Black Lives Matter Utah, Rae Duckworth, delivered a similar message.

“We will stand for Izzy and we will smile for Izzy.,” Duckworth said. “Don’t mess with our kids. Black Lives Matter every single day.”

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Members of the Legislative Management Committee were told there was the “possibility of a significant jury verdict, given that the case involved the death of a child and focuses on race, poverty and disability,” by Utah Division of Risk Management Director Rachel Terry.

Terry said the district disputes the allegations and “has strong defenses, however, there are factual disputes in this case that likely would have required the case to go to trial,” where it would have been expensive to litigate.

A court fight, she said, “would also have negatively impacted the district and its efforts to address issues identified” in an earlier settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice, which found “serious and widespread racial harassment of Black and Asian-American students.” 

Terry said a trial “would have also been very difficult for Izzy’s family and the Foxboro Elementary School and community.” She said in approving the settlement, she relied on the Utah Attorney General’s office and feedback received during mediation of the case.

The settlement was also approved by representatives of the attorney general’s office, Utah Department of Government Operations Executive Director Marvin Dodge and Utah Gov. Spencer Cox.

State law requires that any settlement totaling more than $1.5 million must also come before the Legislative Management Committee, made up of leaders from both the Legislature’s majority Republican and minority Democratic parties.

DOJ investigation reveals ‘serious and widespread racial harassment’ in this Utah school district

The only comment from lawmakers about the settlement came from House Minority Leader Angela Romero, D-Salt Lake City.

“I appreciate the fact that we got to a settlement. I think some of us will have to disagree about the findings because we, many of us that are representatives from communities of color, hear from families of people who are in your school district,” she said.

“They still feel like there’s a problem. So I want you to know that I don’t agree with you on your assessment on that,” Romero said, reiterating she was glad a settlement had been reached.

“But we as a state and as a school district have to do better for our students, regardless of who they are or their families or their racial identity,” she said. “We’ve got a long way to go still.”

In a news release, the Davis School District called Tichenor’s death a “tragic loss” that “will always impact our community and school. Working together, Davis School District and Izzy’s family have reach a mutual resolution.”

The release said the district “is committed to making schools a safe and welcoming environment for all. Any form of racism, bigotry, discrimination, or harassment within our schools is unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

People are encouraged to report instances of harassment or bullying, the release said, and those reports “will be thoroughly documented, addressed promptly, and appropriate consequences will be administered.”

The release said, “While Davis School District and its staff have made profound and meaningful progress, there is still work to be done. The District is continually assessing and expanding its processes and efforts to better support every student.”

That includes “implementing trauma-informed counseling and other resources” and continuing to “provide necessary training to ensure compliance with all applicable guidelines and recommendations.”

The school district, the release said, “is wholly committed to continuing to implement changes to positively impact students, staff and the community.”