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Beverly Hills Unified hires law firm for review of sports camp

August 28, 2013|By Stephen Ceasar
  • The Beverly Hills Board of Education hired a law firm to conduct an independent review of a for-profit summer sports camp held at Beverly Hills High School, seen here.
The Beverly Hills Board of Education hired a law firm to conduct an independent… (Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles…)

The Beverly Hills Board of Education has voted to hire a law firm to 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 came in response to an article in The Times that reported that the Beverly Hills Sports Academy, held on campus, is owned by Principal Carter Paysinger and operated by two school employees.

The agreement was approved Tuesday evening on a 4-1 vote. Board member Noah Margo cast the dissenting vote.

The board approved a contract with the Los Angeles law firm of Lozano Smith to assist Beverly Hills Unified with legal services, but does not specify the proble. But district spokeswoman Tracy Balsz said the agreement includes the review of the sports camp.

The law firm has represented the district in the past, but does not now have any business with the district, Balsz said.  

Under the agreement, the district would be charged between $215 and $295 an hour for work done by a partner, senior counsel or other attorneys employed by the law firm. 

The firm's associates would cost the district between $165 and $225 an hour and law clerks and paralegals would cost between $110 and $135 an hour. 

Under the agreement, an "educational consultant" described as a current or former school district administrator or board member would be paid $125 an hour. 

The firm did not return a telephone call for comment Wednesday. 

Parents say they were led to believe that the academy was a mandatory school-sanctioned 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.

Earlier this month, Paysinger said in a statement that the review would provide needed transparency.

"In my thirty-plus years as an educator, school official and employee of the Beverly Hills Unified School District, I have always acted in the best interests of our students and the District," Paysinger said.

The academy charges from $200 to $385 for the monthlong 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.

In 1997, the district asked Paysinger to run a summer sports program at the school — which previously had been operated by a local university, according to Paysinger's attorney, Reed Aljian.

That year, Paysinger registered the business name Beverly Hills Sports Academy in Los Angeles County, listing himself as owner as recently as 2012. Paysinger is in the process of having his name removed, the district said.

Once Paysinger became an administrator, he gave up day-to-day involvement, Aljian said.

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.

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stephen.ceasar@latimes.com | Twitter: @stephenceasar


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