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Montgomery School Board Member Charged with Theft

By Barbara A. Preston | Posted April 17, 2024

The Plainfield police department charged Montgomery resident Zelda Spence Wallace on March 29 with allegedly stealing $13,086 from the Plainfield School District, where she has been employed as an administrator. She also serves on the Montgomery Board of Education.

As the supervisor of Out-of-School Programs in Plainfield, Spence Wallace is charged with one count of Theft by Deception in the 3rd Degree and one count of Theft of Movable Property in the 3rd Degree, according to the complaint summons filed in the Superior Court of New Jersey, Union County-Law Division on April 10. Punishment for these crimes, if proven guilty, could carry a sentence of three to five years in New Jersey State Prison.

Zelda Spence Wallace

Count 1 claims that she “gave a false impression that collecting funds were for a charitable purpose and subsequently not fulfilling that promise.” It alleges that Spence Wallace “collected $7,026 in the form of electronic payments between March 2021 and May 2023 that were intended for the Plainfield Board of Education’s 21st Century Program, and using said funds toward personal gains.”

The second charge (theft of movable property) claims that Spence Wallace took “physical cash in the amount of $6,060 between April 2022 and July 2023” belonging to the Plainfield School Board and meant for the 21st Century Program.”

The 21st Century Program, a community learning center, is a federally funded program supported by the NJ Department of Education for out-of-school-time programs. The program is intended to help students to meet the challenging state academic standards by providing them with academic enrichment; by offering activities during non-school hours; and by offering families of students served by the centers the opportunity for active and meaningful engagement in their children's education.

Spence Wallace had no comment for The Montgomery News. She has hired a lawyer, Randy P. Davenport of Cranford.

In a telephone interview, Davenport said, “I do not comment on cases. I do thoroughly believe, in my heart of hearts, that when this case comes to a resolution, she will be not just exonerated, but vindicated.”

Spence Wallace is scheduled to appear in person before Honorable Joseph P. Donohue at the Union County Court House on Thursday, May 23 at 9 am.

Spence Wallace joined the Plainfield school district as a teacher at Maxson Middle School in 2002.

According to the 21st Century Program website, “She loves working in Plainfield and is fully vested in the academic achievement, safety, and overall well being of all students, staff, and families in our community. A mother of five, Mrs. Spence knows what it takes to be a Team Mom and has coached her children’s sports team — from cheer to basketball to football to baseball.” 


As the 21st Century project director and supervisor for out-of-school programs within the Plainfield Public School District, Spence Wallace has been responsible for supporting teachers to implement innovative learning experiences for Plainfield youth during non-school hours. 

Spence Wallace was first elected to the Montgomery Township School Board in November 2020. She was selected president of the board in January 2022 and served in that role until January 2024. She was reelected to the school board in November to a second three-year term, which would run through December 2027.


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