The president of the Norristown Area School Board resigned Tuesday after a local news outlet reported allegations he had sent sexually suggestive messages to a teenage girl.
In a statement from his lawyer, Shae Ashe denied wrongdoing but said he was resigning to ensure the school board “continues without unnecessary distraction.” His lawyer said he is no longer running in Tuesday’s school board election, though county officials said the deadline to withdraw as a candidate has passed and his name will remain on the ballot.
Ashe was one of three incumbents seeking reelection to the board overseeing the 7,600-student district, which was one of the last in the region to open in person last year. They are facing challengers funded by a pro-reopening PAC that has poured money into races across the state, including many Republicans vying for seats on Democrat-controlled boards in the Philadelphia region.
Ashe is “ready to cooperate in any investigation” and “encourages the public to allow a proper investigation so everyone who wants to be heard has their opportunity,” the statement said.
Ashe has not been contacted by law enforcement, his lawyer, R. Emmett Madden, said Wednesday, calling the allegations “nothing more than rumors on the internet.”
Kate Delano, a spokesperson for the Montgomery County District Attorney’s Office, said she could not comment on whether the office was investigating the matter. Norristown police did not return a request for comment.
According to the Delaware Valley Journal, an online publication, Ashe sent messages on social media last year to a then-17-year-old girl, calling her “beautiful” and asking if she wanted to “chill and do something.” One message read, “If only you were 18.” The outlet reported Oct. 19 that it interviewed the girl’s mother, who was not identified by her full name, and reviewed images of the messages.
In a Fox29 report that aired after Ashe’s resignation Tuesday, a woman identified as the girl’s mother told the station that the family had filed a police report.
A 2008 Norristown Area High School graduate, Ashe began serving on the school board in 2017 and has been president since 2018. A bio on the board’s website describes him as having a daughter. He works as director of constituent services for state Sen. Amanda Cappelletti, a Democrat who represents part of Montgomery and Delaware Counties. A spokesperson said Ashe had been suspended without pay.
An advocate for overhauling Pennsylvania’s school funding to send more aid to poorer communities like Norristown, Ashe — whose mother served on the Norristown school board — told NPR in 2017 that he was motivated to run for the board in part because of Betsy DeVos’ confirmation as education secretary under former President Trump.
“A lot of people here in Norristown understand that, with the way we are struggling for funding, that we’re one of the districts that’s going to feel an immediate impact of DeVos and her push for vouchers and more charter schools,” he said.