Hillcrest Decision Highlights

The following are excerpts from the decision of NYS Commissioner of Education David Steiner regarding the sale of Hillcrest Elementary:

… it is well settled that when selling real property, a board of education has a fiduciary duty to secure the best price obtainable in the board’s judgment for any lawful use of the premises … in the face of two substantially discrepant appraisals conducted within a short time period, the board, as public trustee of the property, was obligated to engage in a careful, deliberative process to assess whether acceptance of the Congregation’s bid would secure the best price … The record indicates that the board did not engage in such a deliberative process, but instead acted in haste to approve the sale almost immediately upon receipt of the second appraisal … the board chose to sell Hillcrest via an RFP process that was only locally advertised and issued less than one month before bids had to be submitted. The board provides no explanation for this restrictive method of sale. … Therefore, I am unable to conclude that the board took reasonable steps to ascertain the best method of sale for Hillcrest as a means of securing the best price.

… Accordingly, under the facts and circumstances presented, I am constrained to find that the board abused its discretion by hastily approving the sale of Hillcrest to the Congregation and that such sale must be set aside

… Further, prior to selling Hillcrest in the future, the board must take reasonable steps, consistent with this decision, to secure the best price obtainable for Hillcrest. IT IS ORDERED that the July 28, 2010 action of the Board of Education of the East Ramapo Central School District in approving the sale of the Hillcrest property to Congregation Yeshiva Avir Yakov is hereby annulled and set aside.   Read the full decision: http://www.counsel.nysed.gov/Decisions/volume50/d16239.htm#_ftnref7  

The NY State Atty. General is Investigating the sale: