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Beverly Hills Unified will pay $685,000 to settle ex-principal's suit

The Beverly Hills Unified School District will pay $685,000 to settle a federal discrimination lawsuit filed last year by its former principal, according to a copy of the agreement.

The settlement, reached last month, resolves a lawsuit by Carter Paysinger in which he alleged district 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.

In a 32-page complaint filed in federal court, Paysinger, who retired as principal this month, made a host of allegations against the district. The complaint cited discriminatory comments by board members toward the African American administrator and deliberate leaks of information to the Los Angeles Times and other newspapers.

In a statement, Paysinger said the settlement is “a huge victory for everyone who has ever suffered in the workplace” and that he will now “focus all of my attention on seeking election to the board and continuing my goals of moving our district forward to the highest level of excellence.”

The Beverly Hills Unified School District did not return requests for comment. Attorney Fred Fenster, who represented the district, declined to comment. 

Paysinger and the district have been embroiled in a dispute since 2013, when articles in The Times first stated 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 alleged in the lawsuit that board member Lewis Hall provided the report 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 alleged that the school district did not investigate the source of the leak.

The lawsuit also alleged that the district failed to investigate complaints of misconduct by school officials, intended to unfairly demote Paysinger's relatives who worked for the district and that he made less than other administrators in the district who are white.

Paysinger also claimed the school district filed a complaint with the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, which launched an investigation into Paysinger's involvement with the sports camp. Paysinger alleged 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.

Hall, at the time the suit was filed, described the allegations as false.

Paysinger retired from the district this week.

For more court news, follow @sjceasar.

 

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