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Beverly Hills principal cleared in sports camp probe

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The Los Angeles County district attorney's office has concluded its investigation into Beverly Hills High School Principal Carter Paysinger and the for-profit summer sports camp he owned — clearing him of any criminal wrongdoing, authorities said Thursday.

The district attorney's Public Integrity Division did not find any evidence of criminal activity, said Jane Robison, an L.A. County district attorney's spokeswoman. The office received a complaint about Paysinger and the sports program in August 2013, she said.

Paysinger's attorney, Reed Aljian, said in a statement that Paysinger "has never engaged in any wrongdoing."

"The D.A.'s decision fully supports that fact," he said. "Mr. Paysinger could not be happier that these baseless accusations are now behind him."

Supporters of Paysinger rallied on his behalf at a Beverly Hills Board of Education meeting last week. The group lauded Paysinger for leading the campus during a period of academic achievement and encouraged the board to retain him as principal. Paysinger's contract expires after the current school year.

Paysinger has effectively run the school despite "steep declines in student population and with extremely limited budgets," said Jonathan Prince, former president of the Beverly Hills Education Foundation. Prince added that Paysinger had also been under the burden of "political threats" and "legal maneuverings."

The district attorney's investigation came after The Times reported that the Beverly Hills Sports Academy, held on campus, was owned by Paysinger and operated by two school employees. The article stated that none of the camp's fees — which range from $200 to $385 for the monthlong training session — went toward the athletic teams at Beverly Hills High. The camp brings in $60,000 to $70,000 each summer, according to the Beverly Hills Unified School District.

Parents have said they were led to believe that the summer program was a mandatory, school-sanctioned camp for athletes and that fees would be used to support sports teams. Others say they were strongly encouraged by the principal and other administrators to enroll their children to give them a better chance at making teams.

The district hired a law firm to conduct a review of the program.

A draft report from the law firm, reviewed by The Times last month, showed that Paysinger did not report more than $40,000 he received from the summer camp — a possible violation of conflict-of-interest and ethics policies.

The report found that since becoming principal in 2010, Paysinger had $40,205.97 in checks from the academy deposited into his personal bank account. According to the report, Paysinger told the investigators that the checks were intended for his brother, who is the school's athletic director, and were transferred to him in more than 80 transactions over three years.

Aljian said that there was nothing improper or unlawful about the arrangement and that Paysinger was simply asked by his brother to collect his summer compensation and pay him over the course of the year. Paysinger agreed and has paid him in full, Aljian said.

stephen.ceasar@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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