August 27, 2004
Higley Unified School District officials have a simple question for board member Peggy Zornes: Where do you live?
It’s a question that doesn’t have a simple answer.
According to public records, Zornes purchased a Tempe home in July. A condition of financing the home is that the home must be her primary residence for at least a year. As a Higley board member, however, she’s required to reside within the school district’s boundaries.
The issue came up when the district attempted to deliver a board packet to the residence Zornes has on file and discovered she no longer lived there. Board members are required by law to give notification to the district they serve when they change addresses.
During Monday night’s board meeting, fellow board member Ed Moore asked Zornes whether she still resides within the district. Zornes said she did, but would not give her address.
District resident John Bartell said Zornes lives at his residence. But later, he explained Zornes rents a room from him.
"I would say off the top of my head she spends more time in Tempe," he said. "But, she rents a room from us and has a key to the front door and that room is always available to her."
Chris Thomas, legal counsel for the Arizona School Boards Association, said the issue comes down to domicile and Zornes is probably within the limits of the law. However, Thomas said voters should ask themselves if they think Zornes’ loyalty lies with the district when her primary residence is in Tempe.
Voters will have an opportunity to answer that question on Sept. 7, when Zornes faces challenger Greg Land for her seat on the Higley board. Zornes and board president Todd Nuttall were recalled in June when a group of Higley parents successfully collected the number of signatures to put the question to voters.