Montclair resident David Herron has filed a complaint with the New Jersey Commissioner of Education alleging that Franklin Turner, a member of the Montclair BOE since May 2016, is not a resident of Montclair. Herron alleges that Turner failed to maintain continuous legal residency in Montclair in violation of N.J.S.A. 18A:12-3 which says in part, “Whenever a member of a local board of education shall cease to be a bona fide resident of the district, his membership in the Board shall immediately cease.”
Accompanying Herron’s complaint were documents including a State of New Jersey Seller’s Residency Certification/Exemption Form which has Turner listed as the seller of a home at 577 Upper Mountain Avenue, Upper Montclair, a home that sold in September 2017. On the form, a primary address for Turner is listed as 41 Watchung Plaza, #110, Montclair, an address Herron maintains is for a UPS mailbox in the UPS store.
Herron also alleges that Turner did not change his voter registration records and asserts that Turner allegedly continued to vote from the address “577 Upper Mountain Avenue, Montclair, N.J.” although he was allegedly no longer a resident of that address.
Herron also alleges in the complaint that “on or about April 10, 2018, Turner appeared at the Board’s office and presented a new address to the Board.”
The new address for Turner alleged in the complaint is a single family home owned by a Montclair family who are friends with Turner. Baristanet spoke with a member of the family who lives at the address on Friday who confirmed that Turner has been living with them until he finds something permanent.
Herron, in his complaint, states that he had previously emailed BOE president Laura Hertzog on May 1 and May 11 with the allegations regarding Turner’s residency. Herron states Hertzog replied to him on May 14, 2018, telling him, “kindly note that the Montclair Board of Education does not have the jurisdiction over Board member qualifications, including residency.”
At the May 16 Montclair Board of Education meeting, Turner stated that he had a conversation with a Montclair Times reporter and was asked if he lived in Montclair. Turner said the answer he gave was “Yes.”
Turner then said he told the reporter that he would not answer any questions about his residency, adding that he would not legitimize the interview or the allegations.
Responding to an email Friday addressed to all the BOE members, BOE President Laura Hertzog gave the following statement to Baristanet:
“Dr. Turner has stated publicly and on multiple occasions that he is a Montclair resident. The District is in receipt of a copy of the complaint from Mr. Herron addressed to the Commissioner of Education challenging Dr. Turner’s residency. Because the Board is not a party to this complaint, no further comment is warranted. The Board continues to focus on the important work of providing an excellent public education for all of Montclair’s children.”