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Beverly Hills High principal a target of complaint to D.A.

Sources say Principal Carter Paysinger is being investigated over his Beverly Hills Sports Academy.

September 24, 2013|By Stephen Ceasar

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office has opened an investigation into Beverly Hills High School Principal Carter Paysinger and the for-profit summer sports camp he owns, according to several people with knowledge of the inquiry.

The district attorney's office would not confirm the investigation, but acknowledged that the public integrity division had received a complaint about Paysinger and the sports program.

The investigation comes six weeks after The Times reported that the Beverly Hills Sports Academy, held on campus, is owned by Paysinger and operated by two school employees. The article found that none of the camp's fees — which range from $200 to $385 for the monthlong training session — goes toward the athletic teams at Beverly Hills High. The camp brings in $60,000 to $70,000 a summer, according to the district.

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 that they were strongly encouraged by the principal and other administrators to enroll their children to give them a better chance at making teams.

Parents also contend that it is a conflict of interest for public school officials to operate a business catering solely to their students. The school board last month approved a review of the program by an outside law firm.

Beverly Hills Unified School District spokeswoman Tracy Balsz said the system was made aware of the investigation by the district attorney's office.

Supt. Gary Woods declined to comment.

Paysinger's attorney, Reed Aljian, said in a statement: "Carter Paysinger has dedicated his entire career to the service of this community as a respected educator and administrator. He has not been informed of any criminal inquiry. However, he looks forward to fully cooperating with any investigation, which will prove that he did not engage in any improper conduct."

According to a letter to the district obtained by The Times, the public integrity division "is conducting an investigation which requires access to certain documents." The letter, from Lou Costanza, the supervising investigator, goes on to ask for Paysinger's economic conflict-of-interest statements from 2008 to the present.

Paysinger, however, was only required to complete the statements once he became principal in 2010, Balsz said. He was previously the school's athletic director.

In those statements — for 2010 to 2012 — Paysinger declared no possible conflicts of interest, according to the documents provided by the district.

When interviewed by investigators, two people said they were asked what they knew about the sports program and Paysinger's involvement. One person provided investigators with checks cashed by the Beverly Hills Sports Academy.

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 Aljian.

That year, Paysinger registered the business name Beverly Hills Sports Academy, and he listed himself as owner as recently as 2012. Once Paysinger became an administrator, he gave up day-to-day involvement, Aljian said.

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

The Beverly Hills Sports Academy takes place each June and is "designed to provide a comprehensive summer conditioning program for the Beverly Hills High School student athletes," its pamphlet and program application say.

stephen.ceasar@latimes.com

Times staff writer Jack Leonard contributed to this report.

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