A village trustee has voted for the construction of a girls religious school while working for a member of the school’s board of directors.
Trustee Abe Sicker confirmed he works for a company whose owner was president of the board of directors for Ateres Bais Yaakov Academy of Rockland, a not-for-profit religious organization seeking to build a school on Summit Park Road.
Mark Hertz, who has signed village documents as president of Ateres’ board of directors, is founder and president of Mark Hertz Company, a real estate consulting and violation removal services, according to the company’s website.
Sicker confirmed Friday that he works for Hertz.
“I had no idea that he was the president” of the board for Ateres, Sicker said referring to Hertz.
Sicker wrote in a follow-up email that he became aware of Hertz’s affiliation with Ateres on Feb. 27.
“My unawareness stems from the fact that while Mr. Hertz was listed as a board member on paper, he had no involvement in the school, and certainly, no financial stake in it,” Sicker said.
Sicker said he has supported Ateres because the school serves an important need in the community, and many of the students were from New Hempstead.
Sicker said he’s been in contact with legal counsel to determine how to proceed with matters relating to Ateres, adding it would be “premature” to say whether he will recuse himself from votes in the future.
Trustee Shalom Mintz, who has a child attending Ateres, has recused himself in the past when necessary regarding Ateres’ application. He declined to comment Friday.
However, Sicker and Mintz have yet to recuse themselves over Ateres’ petition to amend the village’s zoning code that would create a special permit to allow for interim school uses and temporary modular classrooms.
Mayor Fred Brinn said in an email that Sicker and Mintz should recuse themselves from the Ateres application process and the proposed amendment to the zoning code.”
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