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Beverly Hills school district to review relationship with sports camp

School district will review its relationship with sports camp for Beverly Hills High athletes that is owned by school's principal.

August 15, 2013|By Stephen Ceasar
  • Students on the Beverly Hills High School campus. The Beverly Hill School District will conduct a review of its relationship with a for-profit summer sports camp that is owned by the school's principal.
Students on the Beverly Hills High School campus. The Beverly Hill School… (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles…)

The Beverly Hills school district will conduct an independent review of its relationship with a for-profit summer sports camp for Beverly Hills High School athletes that is owned by the school's principal.

The review was in response to an article in The Times that found the Beverly Hills Sports Academy, held on campus, is owned by Principal Carter Paysinger and operated by two other school employees.

Parents say they were led to believe that the academy was a school-sanctioned mandatory camp for athletes and that fees would help fund sports teams. Others say they were strongly encouraged by the principal, and other administrators, to enroll their children to give them a better shot at making teams.

Parents contend that it is a conflict of interest for public school officials to run a business that caters solely to their own students.

On Tuesday, the Beverly Hills Board of Education requested the review. Schools Supt. Gary Woods said in a statement Thursday that the district has "retained a third party to review all concerns raised regarding the Academy's service to the District and our families."

"For many years, the Academy has provided a beneficial complement to our high school sports programs. Our intent is to expedite this review, and when completed we will take appropriate action if necessary."

Paysinger, through a spokeswoman, declined requests for comment Thursday.

The academy charges from $200 to $385 for the month-long training session and takes in between $60,000 and $70,000 a summer, according to the district. None of the revenue goes toward the athletic teams at Beverly Hills High.

Woods said the district "will be fair and thoughtful, and not rush to judgment or action. We will continue to strive for excellence in all that we do."

Woods had previously told The Times that he thought it was appropriate for administrators to run the business on campus with district families as its customers.

"It's acceptable when educators are working beyond their school days and contracted hours to benefit our students," he said. "I believe we have a duty to make sure our students are prepared for pretty strenuous athletics."

In a statement, board member Noah Margo said he hoped that parents and others would focus instead on educational issues.

"I hope that our community, mainly those involved in this 'red herring' of an issue, are willing to go to bat for positive changes in our students' education experience as fervently as they have cast doubt and negativity upon a voluntary summer sports program," the statement said.

Board member Lewis Hall said he hopes the review will shed more light on the academy.

"All I want it to do is expose the truth," he said. "Once we know what the truth is, good or bad, we can move forward confidently."

The Times reported that the academy was started in 1997 by Paysinger, who was the school's athletic director at the time. He registered the business name Beverly Hills Sports Academy in Los Angeles County, listing himself as owner.

A business tax application — a requirement to do business in Beverly Hills — has never been filed for the academy, according to Jose Zaragoza, revenue operations investigator for the city.

Paysinger is listed as the sole owner of the academy in county documents, although Woods said previously that the principal was in the process of removing his name and is no longer involved with the business.

Howard Edelman, a physical education teacher and former track and cross-country coach, and Jason Newman, a co-athletic director, handle the day-to-day operations of the camp, which attracts about 300 athletes each summer.

Edelman and Newman, through a district spokeswoman, also declined to comment Thursday.

After inquiries by The Times, Woods requested that Paysinger provide documents related to the sports academy to the district.

As of Thursday, Paysinger has refused to provide any documents or speak about the academy with district officials, said Tracy Balsz, a district spokeswoman.

stephen.ceasar@latimes.com

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