Beverly Hills High principal to retire amid conflict with district

Carter Paysinger, principal at Beverly Hills High School, to retire

The principal of Beverly Hills High School, who has been embroiled in a dispute with district officials in recent years and who sued the school district last year alleging racial discrimination, announced Tuesday that he would retire at the end of the school year.

Carter Paysinger, who became principal in 2010, said in a statement that since filing the federal lawsuit, his working conditions have further deteriorated. He said he intends to run for a seat on the Beverly Hills Board of Education after leaving the school.

“I chose to endure the abuse because of my loyalty to our students and to this community,” Paysinger said. “My goal from the start has been to address the problems in this school district and to effect positive change.”

Paysinger’s decision comes after the board signaled on Monday that it would probably not retain him in the position, as the board announced that it intends to hire a search firm to find a new principal for the upcoming school year.

Paysinger and the Beverly Hills Unified School District have been involved in a dispute since articles in The Times last year found that the Beverly Hills Sports Academy, a for-profit camp held on the high school campus, was operated by Paysinger and two school employees.

The district hired a law firm to investigate the arrangements.

The report from the law firm found a number of financial and ethical improprieties related to the camp — including Paysinger's failure to report more than $40,000 in earnings. The review found that Paysinger probably violated the district's conflict-of-interest and ethics rules, among other things.

Paysinger denied any wrongdoing.

In July, Paysinger filed a 32-page complaint in federal court, accusing the district of a range of charges, including allegations that officials routinely ignored his complaints of racial discrimination and retaliated against him through attacks in the media, harassment and by denying job opportunities to him and his family.

The lawsuit cites discriminatory comments by board members toward the African American administrator and deliberate leaks of information to the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers. It also alleges a failure by district officials to investigate claims of misconduct, that the district targeted Paysinger’s family members and that a pay disparity exists between him and other district administrators, who are white.

Paysinger alleges that board member Lewis Hall provided the report on the sports academy to The Times and that member Lisa Korbatov released several internal complaints filed by Paysinger to the Beverly Hills Courier, a local weekly newspaper. He also alleges that the school district did not investigate the source of the leaks.

Additionally, Paysinger claims the school district filed a complaint with the Los Angeles County district attorney's office that launched an investigation into his involvement with the sports camp. Paysinger alleges the district then alerted The Times to the investigation, to further discredit him.

The district attorney's office cleared Paysinger and the camp of any criminal wrongdoing.

The lawsuit claims that Korbatov once told Paysinger that "one of the problems that you will have is that you do not look like what a principal of Beverly Hills High School should look like." The complaint also alleges that Hall once said he did not trust Paysinger because of "where he is from" and that then-board Vice President Brian Goldberg once said it would be easier for Paysinger "if he had lighter skin" and that he "looks more intelligent when he wears glasses."

All board members have denied making the remarks.

After the lawsuit was filed, board president Goldberg, in an interview, said he no longer saw Paysinger as a capable principal.

"I really don't think, given these accusations that he's made, that he has the ability to be an effective leader at the high school," Goldberg said at the time. "I don't see how he can work with the board and superintendent when he's making false accusations about racism."

Paysinger said he felt that he could better serve the school district from the board.

“With the continued support of the community, if elected to the board, I will be in the best position to effect the changes that we desperately need,” he said in a statement.

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