Montclair Resident, In Petition To Commissioner of Education, Alleges BOE Member Franklin Turner Does Not Live In Montclair

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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.”

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24 COMMENTS

  1. Herron needs a better hobby, perhaps knitting or coin collecting? Besides his buffoonery at BoE meetings and public attacks on seated Board members, he wastes the town’s resources on pointless law suits and draws the attention from our mission of building a better education system for our kids. Franklin Turner is a reputable public servant and he is passionate about his volunteer position on the Board. As with all of his past legal efforts, this too will be shown to be a self-aggrandizing folly. It’s an embarrassment, and it should stop. JB

  2. Every students family must have multiple proofs of residency, and it must be provided for several times as they attend MPS. Board members should be required to do the same. It’s not burdensome, increases transparency and it would avoid problems like this in the future.

  3. I just couldn’t resist this silly comment that was just posted. Thanks for being concerned about my leisure activities. And I do have hobbies, tried knitting, didn’t care much for that. Coin collecting is good, I already do that. But this is more fun. Strange you had no problem when you thought it ok to file a complaint against Spiller. I don’t get it. Oh wait, yes I do. As far as Turner, either he is a resident or he is not. No gray area there. Not questioning his passion for volunteering or his resolve as a public servant. Only questioning-Does Turner live in Montclair as a bona fide resident. Its the law.
    Stop, not a chance. Just getting started. I think this is quickly becoming my new hobby. Relax,
    more complaints are coming. It’s a constitutional right, one I enjoy. Almost as much as my hobbies.

  4. Mr. Bonesteel. When I can no longer afford Montclair, can I used your address so my kid can continue to go here? Or is that different than what Mr. Turner is doing?

  5. Have at it. Wouldn’t surprise me.

    I’ll compare what you do to the Spiller case any day Mr. Herron. Firstly, we all know the result of that case. Of note is that all the Mayor needed to do back then was gracefully ask Mr. Spiller to take another role. He did not. Conflict of interest is a significant issue. Please do point out any of the results of your past legal actions that have a positive outcome for you or the township.

    The bigger question here is of course your real motivation for this beyond the usual. It doesn’t take much for anyone to see that your real target is the vote that approved our new Superintendent. By invalidating Mr. Turner, you do the same to that vote and all others he was a part of. Why do you wish to remove Dr. Johnson? What are your issues with her? Finally, who else is on this silly quest that results in more diversion and in-fighting when what we really need is shared progress for our kids, especially those adversely affected by the AGAP?

    Do you want things to be better for our kids, or do you simply wish to keep blowing things up?

    JB

  6. Hmmm, what would t surprise you?

    Anyway, as usual you are way off. So far off it’s hysterical. Would you like to see the letter I wrote to the BOE declaring my admiration for Dr Johnson and why I thought she was wonderful for the students of Montclair and the district? I could provide that to you, just to prove you speak without knowing a thing.

  7. I opposed Spiller on BOA as well, where conflict was ambiguous and took a judge to decide. This is is case is comparatively cut and dried “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.” I’m (surprisingly) with Herron on this case and am impressed that his vigilance is (seemingly) color blind. Montclair Times was also wondering, so he is not a alone.

    At a minimum, Turner is being evasive. If he’s temporarily between Montclair homes, he could just explain that. But renting a p.o. box to maintain residency and influence looks/is bad.

  8. Why are the comments here so confrontational and mean spirited?
    Even those that seem to suggest we work together are immediately filled with condescending rhetoric.

    I’d suggest that Mr. Bonesteel and Mr. Herron (and whomever is qby33) quit their little spat and sit down to a meaningful conversation. The example you’re setting for the kids whom you each seem to be trying to help is a poor one.

  9. This matter will turn on what constitutes residency. Did Turner cease being a Montclair resident when the property on Upper Mountain was sold? Does staying with friends and maintaining a P.O. Box qualify as residency? My guess is this issue has been litigated before. Surely Turner is not the first school Board member in the state who has gone through a divorce and been “in between” residences. Does “intent” factor in?

    Herron has now gone after 2 sitting BOE members. Taking bets on who’s next.

  10. [Portion of comment removed] That it’s actually another African American who filed this complaint. In fact, a card carrying member of the NAAP and a prominent member of that community — just because Mr. Turner appears to have violated the official rules of his Board service.

    It’s actually David Herron who comes off as the real public servant here because he continues to go after impropriety and violations of public process equally – black or white. Especially when it’s those who think they can just take inappropriate actions because it suits their agenda – or believe they have some higher purpose more important, that they can avoid playing fairly by the rules like the rest of us.

    Mr. Herron is real the equity advocate it seems. For him, it doesn’t matter whether it’s an African-American school board Vice-President clearly playing it fast and loose with his residency, or a mixed race school Board President trying to get over by corner cutting the process. Herron continues to point out seeming violations of rules and process no matter who is involved. When the school board majority can’t even allow those with a different perspective to vote their minority opposition publicly. Worse, when its President sets the scheduling up in a such way that by the minority’s absence, it only adds to the optics of an unnecessary board racial divide.

    Keep at it Mr. Herron.

  11. Herron the gift that keeps on sueing, complaining, falsely accusing teachers of racism causing them months of grief but cares not a fig about what trouble he causes but at least he keeps his holier than thou do gooder uber concerned Montclair citizen credentials. At least his gyrations over the years has been entertaining. Sophomore’s suggestion of having a meaningful conversation is ….. sophomoric.

  12. Jon, your personal attack on David is just unacceptable. That’s now how neighbors talk to one another. You owe him an apology.

  13. Why is discussion here about the plaintiff(mr herron) and not the complaint? Is a residency requirement for school board members, and students, reasonable? Let’s discuss that. Are we making exceptions for mr turner? Commenters keep bringing up student res requirement? Dr turner wants his kids in school and seat on board without proving residency? Big ask.

  14. You’ve been on Share too long Fred, drinking the Koolaid. Unlike Mr. Herron calling a board member a criminal at a public board meeting and waving a shovel at our public servants; here, I criticize his actions, not him personally. Don’t think I’ve seen his apologies for that, but you know, hypocrisy.

    I’m sure he’s a sweet fella in person, and I’ll happily await the results of his most recent quest. It should bother you and every tax payer that we have to fund the defense of such antics, but so be it.

    PS – He never answered my questions. Why is he and his group seeking to invalidate the vote to approve our new Superintendent, Dr. Johnson?

  15. jonbonesteel: I don’t think you’ll ever get an answer to your question about why some want to “invalidate the vote” to hire Dr. Johnson. Maybe she is perceived as someone who will “stand up” to the union. Perhaps those who preferred the prior BOE president (and her agenda) want to discredit the current President. Or, perhaps, there is a desire to see Dr. Johnson fail, a la Penny McCormack, so as to bolster the argument for an elected Board. Who knows? At this point, it’s surmise and conjecture.

    therealworld : it is a real(world) stretch to call Mr. Herron the (real) equity advocate. The question of Turner’s residency needs to be resolved now that Herron has raised it – and it needs to be resolved soon. It is a distraction the town does not need. That said, I’m not sure how you’ve come up with the thesis that Turner and his supporters say that “everything wrong with education here stems from Montclair’s racism.” The entire 7 member BOE (which consists of 3 African-Americans; and 4 Caucasians) established, as one of its goals, the elimination of the Achievement Gap. Are you saying the entire Board blames “everything wrong with education … [on] racism”? Or just the 3 African-Americans on the Board?

    lacamina: per my earlier post, the Turner issue will come down to “what constitutes residency.” Has anyone here — Mr. Herron, perhaps? — found any rulings out of Trenton which specifically address the components of residency? Does one have to own real property to establish residency? I suspect not. Does one have to have signed an enforceable lease agreement to establish residence? Does “staying with friends” with an “intent” to stay qualify as residency?

    As usual, the lawyers will stay busy with their meters running.

  16. It’s time to clean up this mess and the Mayor needs to step up and flush out the decay.

    Herzog, Turner, Johnson, and Jackson should all resign. Between the current situation of ignoring a non-resident sitting on our board, [portion of comment deleted] to allowing the assignment by defaul to a superintendent who ended up being the solo candidate with Turner (non-resident) being one of four who voted that fateful night..after a three year, 100,000.00 dollar executive search for a superintendent, we end up with someone who has been an achievement gap administrator and it’s all we have heard her talk about. I want to hear how we challenge the best to strive for excellence. Personally I do not care about achievement gap. It will never be closed and we all know why so get on with it.

    Funny, I have had five children go through the system. Not one of them, nor any of their fiends, were achievement gap statistics! Not one of them ever got suspended or had disciplinary actions brought against them. Everyone of them had parents or caregivers who went to assembly’s, teacher conferences, had curfews, made sure the kids did homework, went to after school tutoring, got to school on time, spoke respectfully to adults, got to class on time all the time, were well below the number of absences allowed, and knew what hard work was from watchhng their parents or caregivers demonstrate this!

    Forget this achievement gap none sense, forget this manipulated voting procedure for superintendent, forget about non-residents being on our school board, forget about A BOE president who feels no need to investigate (no investigation on the Superintendnt vote either), and let’s forget this mayor who just sits by idly while this corruption runs rampant! Herzog, Turner, Jackson, and Johnson all need to go. It’s out of control and shameful.

  17. Jon Bonesteel wrote: “Franklin Turner is a reputable public servant and he is passionate about his volunteer position on the Board.” Ok, but it’s Dr. Turner’s ‘passion’ that’s partially helped turn our school board into one of more racially divisive Board’s of Education in decades. He’s clearly one of the advocates of a ‘we are still victims’ mindset. Those who believe that on-going racism in Montclair schools is the main issue today and the most serious problem within our public education.

    Johnlayne, almost everyone wants to eliminate the achievement gap here. It’s just that Dr. Turner and supporters seem to blame it on the our town’s racist teachers and supposed biased school administrators — instead of the social and economic deficits for those not yet performing up to speed. They believe that the achievement gap here (the same gap throughout the country) is largely due to a still pervasive climate of discrimination.

    “We’re not ready. We’re nowhere near ready to get to the heart of the problem, which is overt racism,” said Vice President Franklin Turner. http://www.montclairlocal.news/wp/index.php/2018/01/10/reports-find-students-color-special-ed-students-likely-suspended-montclair/

    Is that really true? Most of us moved to Montclair because it was not Selma, and not surburban anytown USA. We do not subscribe to the: “it doesn’t affect me mindset of the poster directly above.” We care about all boats rising. But does constantly beating a racism drum really make sense here today when there’s an African American Mayor and a diverse Town Council? When there’s an African American high school principal, or an African American school board president? An African American head of the town’s planning commission. Now, we have an African American Superintendent?

    Isn’t the real problem here wealth and education? That some families can afford a tutor to help their kids early on when they need it and others cannot, or that some students start school already reading with more language skills from post-graduate educated parents while others do not? That some have a feeling of needed security in their environment and others experience too much aggression and violence? Is it any wonder those kids who do not have advantages then can’t do the work needed later for AP classes? Are suspended more frequently? That’s the logic to be followed.

    Instead of working harder to help jump start programs and services that actually begin to compensate for economic and social gaps here among those who need it most (lets agree even those gaps were created by a U.S. racist past and are still present in places with differences resulting) Dr. Turner and others seem to keep rhetorically talking about, and it appears even in some ways exacerbate the racial divide here. Because taking actions to correct SES gaps doesn’t just mean hiring an African American Superintendent. There’s lots of work that could have been done in the interim over the years..even the last two years since he’s come on board: Pre-K for all, more enhanced after school grade school homework help and tutoring early on, expanded SAT prep and college bound assistance in HS etc. etc.

    Focusing primarily on racism instead of working to correct economic and social limitations is the wrong approach for THIS township in my opinion. Yes, there is some bias and overt racism in our schools, but this should not be our main focus. And Mayor Robert Jackson gets it. He called for more efforts that take Montclair to “universal excellence” – not lowering standards just to create the appearance of racial parity. By pulling up those who really need the extra help.

    That’s why, instead of Dr. Turner continuing to lament about the politics of racial victimization, he should have just focused personally on playing by the rules equally himself — in this case the State and Township’s basic school board service rule over residency.

    Interestingly, they are alleged rules broken being pursued now by another African-American, even a prominent member of the NAACP which helps prove my point – that racism is not our main issue here. Ensuring fairness and helping to achieve equity for all is.

  18. Montclair looks pretty on the outside but sure is ugly on the inside. Too bad…nice place with a lot of nice people. It only takes a few…..

  19. fielding…what makes you think I was only referring to you? Since you asked…Do you really think your tactics will solve anything?

  20. Comment removed by editor — please feel free to disagree and dislike someone’s comments but don’t hurl personal attacks or resort to name calling.

  21. I’m here and will continue to be here to discredit Martin Schwartz whenever he wants to declare his opinion on race issues. Go ahead and look up his facebook posts and then tell me that it’s “reasonable criticism” , if he hasn’t already been kicked off of every local public forum on that site. (do you think they all kicked him off because of how reasonable he is?) [Portion of comment removed by editor.] I think people should know who they’re dealing with because of the power he holds in this town, and because I believe hateful rhetoric like his needs to be marginalized.

  22. Glad mellish was “moderated” as he/she fails basic test of intelligence, the ability to hold opposing thoughts in mind at same time. Maybe Martin is wrong on Islam (I don’t know his views) and right on turner and role of racism in explaining agap and suspension gap. I also agree with Herron on enforcing residency requirement (whatever his motives). I often/usually disagree with those fellows, but unlike mellish, I’m intelligent (in sense above).

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