Around 100 people attended a regularly scheduled Frenchtown School District board meeting on Tuesday to show their support for music teacher Troy Bashor, accused of inappropriately touching two female students.
Last week, following an evidence hearing in Missoula County Justice Court, a student was granted an order of protection against him, and a second student who alleges inappropriate conduct for years has been interviewed by a detective as part of an active criminal investigation. (See related story.)
Tena Bova, whose daughter Natalie is a Frenchtown High School student, helped to organize the crowd of students who stood at the back of the meeting. Dozens held signs with slogans like “Broncs for Bash” and “Bashor Changes Lives.”
Natalie Bova, the vice president of the student body, said the students and parents weren't there to protest, but just to support Bashor and thank the school board.
“They are standing with Bash, which is really awesome. They aren’t just jumping to conclusions,” she said.
Bonnie Connery said her daughters didn’t go to Frenchtown, but that each spent seven summers at a camp hosted by Missoula Children’s Theatre, where Bashor is the music director. She said she trusts him completely.
“I would let them live with him,” she said. “Troy was part of making them who they are today.”
Over the course of more than a half an hour, more than 25 of the supporters stepped to the front of the room to give a statement during the public comment period at the meeting.
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“We’re here not in protest but in support of Troy Bashor,” Freyja Lundin said. “He is the reason that a lot of us are here today.”
Board vice chair Dave Weber told the group before the public comment section that they could not make derogatory comments about students or staff. At several points, he asked some speakers to stop when they started to talk about the allegations against Bashor.
“Let’s just talk about positives,” he said.
Jen Botkin, whose daughter goes to school at Frenchtown, said Bashor has supported her singing ability.
“He deserves to be here and our school needs him,” she said.
Former student Avery Northway said she became immediate friends with Bashor as soon as she met him as a student, saying he always supported her, even to the point of putting money in her lunch account at school. Northway said she has continued to be close with Bashor and his wife since graduating, and said as a victim of sexual abuse she was there to support him.
“It should speak volumes that I’m standing here this firmly on this side of the fence,” she said.