Peter Braus, a Community Board 1 member, did not break any rules by advocating for his son to be zoned for P.S. 234, the borough president’s office said last month.
Several board members raised concerns after C.B. 1 Chairperson Julie Menin appointed Braus to the Youth and Education Committee on the morning of the controversial school-zoning vote Jan. 19. Braus, who lives in east Tribeca, argued for Option 3R, which would have allowed his son to enter P.S. 234 next fall. The majority of the committee supported Option 2, which zones Braus for the Spruce Street School, and the District 2 Community Education Council agreed with the board’s advisory opinion, enacting Option 2 last month.
Braus mentioned his potential conflict to the Youth and Education Committee, but he did not recuse himself from the committee’s vote three weeks ago. When the matter went before the full board Jan. 26, Braus tried to get the board to withdraw a previous resolution backing Option 2. Andrew Doba, spokesperson for Borough President Scott Stringer, said Braus did nothing wrong.
In general, board members should recuse themselves if they have a financial interest in an issue, Doba said. But if the board is voting on a land-use rezoning, which presumably affects nearly everyone, then board members are allowed to vote as long as they disclose their conflict, Doba said. He said the borough president’s office sees school rezoning as similar to land-use issues, so the same rules apply.
“If the worst thing anyone can say about me is that I advocate for my 4-year-old, so be it,” Braus said at the full board meeting Jan. 26.
— Julie Shapiro