Frenchtown High School

The readerboard at Frenchtown High School.

MICHAEL GALLACHER, Missoulian

The Frenchtown School District feels it is necessary to correct several inaccurate “facts” that have been reported or used on social media to exacerbate an already difficult situation in our district. 

Two years ago, a parent told a junior high counselor that her daughter felt “uncomfortable” around Troy Bashor. This parent wanted to remain anonymous. To be clear, this parent did not report any contact of a sexual nature or that her daughter was distressed at school. District administrators talked to Bashor about contact with students, specifically hugs, and directed him not to have that kind of contact with students. 

This directive to Bashor was reported to the parent through the counselor and she indicated that she was satisfied with that result. That was the last the district administrators or its counselors heard on this issue from this family until January of this year and only when asked directly about it by the high school principal in the course of a Title IX investigation.

The high school principal initiated contact with the student and her mother based on second-party information received during the investigation. Contrary to what has been reported, the student has never reported to school officials that Bashor assaulted her.

In January, another student came forward with allegations that Bashor had touched her inappropriately and a third party contacted law enforcement. Law enforcement contacted the district and the student and her family and the district began cooperating with law enforcement immediately. 

Due to the nature of the allegations, Bashor was placed on leave immediately and the district began an investigation under Title IX as is required by law. After discovering a significant discrepancy in the information that the student provided to the school, district administrators attempted to interview her to clarify this significant discrepancy. The student refused to participate in the investigation, and would not provide any clarifying information to the district. 

The student whose parent reported to the counselor two years ago did participate in the investigation and she talked about specific issues that she was raising against Bashor. Those issues did not include conduct of a sexual nature.

Following the district’s investigation, which substantiated boundary issues (specifically hugs, texting, etc.) but did not substantiate the inappropriate touching alleged by the student, Bashor was disciplined for the inappropriate boundary issues. 

After the district administration concluded its investigation, they spoke to a representative of the sheriff’s office, who stated that he did not expect any criminal charges from the law enforcement investigation. In a subsequent conversation with district administration, this same representative of the sheriff’s office confirmed that he had spoken to the county attorney and that he did not expect any charges would be filed against Bashor. Based on that representation and the district’s own investigation, Bashor returned to school.

Since that time, the student filed for a restraining order against Bashor. Based on what has been reported so far, the allegations in the restraining order are not consistent with the information provided to the district administration by the student. In addition, the recent statements attributed to the parent of the first student are not consistent with the information she or her daughter provided to school officials at any time.

The justice of the peace granted a permanent order of protections based on the student’s allegations, but made it clear that Bashor was free to return to work and both he and the student are present at Frenchtown High School.

Since that time, however, there have been ugly personal attacks on both parties using social media, and flood of misinformation being provided by individuals who claim to have special knowledge of the situation. None of those individuals has accurate knowledge, and [they] do a great disservice to all the parties by claiming otherwise on social media. 

The district will not tolerate any retaliation against individuals who file complaints, participate in the complaint procedure, or are the subject of a complaint.  

Randy H. Cline is superintendent of Frenchtown School District and a past president of the Montana Association of School Superintendents.

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