The Frenchtown School District, in response to a federal lawsuit filed against it, said it was not told about many of the allegations of sexual harassment by one of its teachers against a student, and that it investigated threats the girl received after she reported the acts.
Last month, the parents of a former student filed a lawsuit against the district and Superintendent Randy Cline, saying they did not take adequate steps to protect the teen from being harassed and groped by a teacher, who has been charged with sexually assaulting her.
The parents' lawsuit also claimed the district released private information about their daughter to the media, and did not do its part to stop harassment she received after reporting her allegations against the music and choir teacher, Troy Bashor.
In October, Bashor was charged with a misdemeanor for sexual assault in Missoula County Justice Court. After the charge was filed, the district placed him on paid administrative leave.
According to records in the criminal case, the student told sheriff’s office investigators that Bashor touched her inappropriately over her clothing during the course of more than a year, and had lifted up her shirt and touched her belly button.
She also said that in December 2016, Bashor grabbed her buttocks and put his hands up her shirt while she was working to take down the set of a school play. In that incident, the girl reported that Bashor also attempted to kiss her.
Throughout its response to the federal lawsuit, Frenchtown School District repeatedly says that many of the allegations the girl has made against Bashor were not reported to the school, including his alleged interest in the girl’s menstrual cycle.
The school district is asking a federal judge to toss out the Title IX lawsuit.
The district said in the past that the student stopped responding to them during an internal investigation of Bashor’s behavior. The federal lawsuit said the girl and her family were told to stop cooperating by a detective from the Missoula County Sheriff’s Office.
The lawsuit also said the detective would send the school district a copy of the student’s interview in the criminal case. But school officials said they never received it.
The district has filed a request in Missoula County District Court to obtain a copy of the criminal investigation file in the Bashor case. The judge has not issued an order on the matter.
The federal suit claimed Cline broke federal law by writing a guest letter in the Missoulian in which he said, in part, that the girl had not brought all of her allegations to the district and that she refused to participate in the school’s internal investigation.
The lawsuit said her privacy rights were also breached when Cline sent a copy of the school’s Title IX investigation report into Bashor’s behavior to a Missoulian reporter.
That investigation report said Bashor admitted to giving students “side hugs” but said they were mutual. It found Bashor violated professional boundaries with students and that he was put on three days of unpaid suspension as a result.
After the internal investigation, the school district’s court filing said Bashor was told to stop “physically contacting or texting any student anything unrelated to a specific school activity.”
The district’s response said the letter that was published “speaks for itself” and denied that Cline sent student records to the reporter. The district's response did not directly address the Title IX investigation report.
After the girl talked to law enforcement about Bashor, she said she received various threatening messages over social media. Her federal lawsuit said a Frenchtown principal told her there was nothing he could do about such harassment. The suit also claimed that the principal told her it wasn’t the school’s job to enforce the order of protection that was granted banning Bashor from approaching her while in the building after he was allowed to return to work.
The district denied those allegations in its response. School officials said they investigated all claims of harassment the girl and her family brought to their attention. They also said teachers and staff were told to report or intervene if they witnessed harassing or bullying behavior.
No court hearings have been set in the Title IX case.