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Montgomery School Board Member Resigns After Her Employer — the Plainfield Board of Ed — Charged Her with Theft

By Barbara A. Preston

Friday, April 19 — The Montgomery Township School Board notified the community today that School Board Member Zelda Spence Wallace resigned yesterday. Her employer, the Plainfield Board of Education, recently charged her with allegedly stealing $13,000 from the Plainfield School district, where she has been employed as an administrator.

Zelda Spence Wallace. (File photo, The Montgomery News)

The message to the community states:

"You may be aware from recent media publications that former Board of Education member Zelda Spence Wallace was charged with the commission of a crime involving the school district where she was employed in Union County.

"The Montgomery Board of Education was notified of the pending charge against Ms. Spence Wallace on April 1, 2024. Since Ms. Spence Wallace has been charged, but not convicted of a disqualifying crime or offense, the Montgomery Township Board of Education could not take any action regarding her continued service on the Board.

"Ms. Spence Wallace informed the Board that she did not intend to resign from the Board while she defended herself against these charges. The district, therefore, notified the New Jersey Department of Education on April 5, 2024, that Ms. Spence Wallace was not resigning, and that she was not in a position as a board member to have access to any public district funds or to take any unilateral action that could negatively impact the district. However, yesterday, Ms. Spence Wallace decided to resign from the Board, effective immediately."

"The pending charges against Ms. Spence Wallace relate to her employment in another school district and do not involve the Montgomery Township School District, its public funds, or its students in any way. Board members do not have access to public funds and can only be reimbursed for legitimate expenses that are verified by the Business Administrator and approved by the Board at a public meeting," according to the Montgomery School District statement.

Zelda Spence Wallace

Zelda Spence Wallace

"The [Montgomery School] Board recognizes that an event such as this can cause the community to question their confidence in their elected officials. Please know that the Board values the respect and confidence of the Montgomery Township community and wants to reassure you that we remain committed to ensuring that we fulfill our role as Board members for the proper governance of the District in order to provide the best education and support for our students, families, and staff members.

"The vacancy created by the resignation of Ms. Spence Wallace will be advertised in accordance with Board Policy 0143. Public Notice of the vacancy will be posted within the next several days to invite qualified persons to apply for the vacancy along with the procedures and timelines for the Board to conduct interviews and select a candidate for appointment to the Board."

Spence Wallace served on the Montgomery Board of Education for more than three years, two as president. She 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 have run through December 2027.

Spence Wallace had no comment for The Montgomery News regarding her resignation.

Her lawyer, Randy P. Davenport of Cranford, said in a telephone interview, “The state will not be able to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt. When all things are aired out, it will turn out that she didn’t do anything wrong.” 

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.

Her name has been removed from the Montgomery Board of Ed website.


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