Local teacher charged after investigation into alleged inappropriate relationship with student

A Laurel Highlands School District teacher was arrested after an investigation into a suspected months-long inappropriate relationship with a student.

Fayette County District Attorney Richard Bower announced the arrest of Ashley Thurby Kolesar at a news conference Friday.

The teacher is facing three felony charges after a state police investigation into her alleged relationship with a 17-year-old boy in which they exchanged more than 6,500 text messages from September of last year through January of this year.

At the center of the investigation is a conversation that Kolesar had with another student. Bower said Kolesar recorded a conversation without the student’s knowledge and sent it to the 17-year-old, violating wiretapping laws.

Police said Kolesar also recorded a conversation she had with another student, who is 15, about improving his grade without his consent or knowledge, and then sent it to the 17-year-old.

“It’s confidential. You don’t go out and make fun of it, you don’t go out and distribute it and do not record it. That young man trusted her,” said Bower.

She is facing charges of intercepting communications, disclosing intercepted communications and criminal use of a communication facility. The maximum penalty for each charge is seven years.

“A Pennsylvanian wiretap law makes it illegal to record a private conversation without all parties in the conversation further its illegal to distribute audio to another person,” said Bower.

Laurel Highlands School District Superintendent Dr. Jesse T. Wallace, III provided the following statement following the announcement:

“We have come to know that a felony charge(s) will or have been filed against one of our professional teaching staff. In addition, as we understand the circumstances, this matter continues to be an open and ongoing investigation. Likewise, the employee has been on administrative leave since the onset of the PSP investigation began. To that end, the LHSD has been in continued communication with the PSP and has been transparent and fully corporative with the investigation. The District will act accordingly with the charges being filed and take every step for the continued establishment and maintenance of the safety of all students. All protocols available will be implemented to address this matter fully. We will continue to be vigilant in our pursuit of quality educational programs and services for our students. Lastly, we sincerely hope that this isolated incident does not overshadow the great things Laurel Highlands is doing to advance the student body.”