Montana School District Sued in Teacher Misconduct Case

Teacher in question had previously been fired, had license suspended for 10 years after similar reports

By Associated Press

MISSOULA — A former high school student in Montana has sued her former school district over its hiring of a teacher and coach who was accused of sending sexual messages to the student.

The woman, who is not named in the lawsuit, is suing the Frenchtown School District over its hiring of Michael Kent Botsford, who pleaded guilty in 2016 to a misdemeanor charge of endangering the welfare of children, the Missoulian reported Tuesday.

Botsford was sentenced to six months in jail, with all but 24 hours suspended.

The investigation began after the woman’s parents reported inappropriate messages from Botsford in 2015, the Missoulian reported.

The Frenchtown School District responded on Oct. 19 to the lawsuit, contending the woman could not file a lawsuit as “Jane Doe.” The district asked the court to require her to use her real name.

The lawsuit said Botsford had a pattern of inappropriate behavior toward underaged girls and that the school district was negligent in hiring him.

Botsford had been fired from a different high school in 1999 after two girls reported him for inappropriate contact, the lawsuit said. Centerville Superintendent Jan Cahill investigated the reports and found Botsford had “unethical and immoral relationships” with at least three students, the lawsuit said.

The newspaper said Botsford’s teaching license was suspended for 10 years. Two months after it was reactivated in 2009, he applied to be an on-call substitute teacher at Frenchtown Junior High School.

The Frenchtown School District said it was unaware of Botsford’s prior suspension when he was hired and did run a background check on him.

Botsford worked from 2009 to 2015 as an English teacher and boys basketball coach at Frenchtown High School.

Another Frenchtown School District teacher, Troy Bashor, was convicted of endangering the welfare of children about two years after Botsford was convicted. Bashor served no jail time and was not required to register as a sex offender, though he did lose his teaching certificate.

The newspaper said Frenchtown School District settled with the student in the Bashor case for $350,000 in 2018 after the student and her family filed a lawsuit.

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