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Beverly Hills Voters To Chose Among Five Candidates For Three School Board Seats

Loma Vista
(Thinkstock)

Beverly Hills voters will choose among five candidates for three school board seats today and could elect the first black to office in the city’s 102-year history.

Carter Paysinger announced on Jan. 27 he would retire as Beverly Hills High School’s principal, after it became likely he would not be retained, and run for a seat on the Beverly Hills Unified School District Board of Education.

The field also includes incumbents Lewis Hall and Noah Margo, former board member Mel Spitz and parent/property manager Isabel Hacker.

The often negative campaign has included distribution of a door hanger critical of Hacker and Spitz that did not include its source of funding, a violation of election law, and board President Brian David Goldberg, who decided not to seek re-election, sending emails explaining why he could not vote for Hacker, Paysinger or Spitz.

In his ballot statement, Paysinger pledged to “work tirelessly to restore an education-first atmosphere where teachers teach and students learn and avoid the current school board’s petty squabbles that rob students and teachers of motivation, pride and focus.”

Spitz, a board member from 1970-79, has emphasized his financial training, which has included being president of the Bedline Manufacturing Co. division of the Fortune 500 manufacturer Leggett & Platt, vice president of Hilton Credit Corp. and chief accountant of Hilton Hotels International.

“I will provide leadership to end destructive micromanagement, eliminate wasteful expenditures, fund improvements to the educational program and restore fiscal stability,” Spitz said in his ballot statement.

Hacker is a member of Hawthorne School’s School Site Council and served in various PTA positions.

She has campaigned as an outsider, stressing that she is the only candidate not to have served on the board or been employed by the school district.

Hacker has called for rebuilding public trust in the district and school board, restoring fiscal responsibility and reinforcing the educational program.

Hall has called for taking “politics out of the board room.”

“Beverly Hills was once the model the other districts followed and we can achieve this again by unifying our purpose and continuing to install enlightened leadership and confidence into the schools,” Hall wrote in his ballot statement.

Margo has called for improving the quality of teaching, tightening fiscal controls and returning control to administrators.

Paysinger graduated from Beverly Hills High School in 1974 and was a longtime teacher and coach, including the school’s football coach from 1990- 2008.

Paysinger became the school’s principal in 2010, the only black to hold the position in the history of the school, which opened in 1927.

Paysinger filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the district in July 2014, alleging he was the target of a “malicious campaign of discrimination and retaliation” by the district because of his race. He signed a $685,000 settlement of the suit on June 26.

Paysinger is president-elect of the California Interscholastic Federation Southern Section, the governing body for high school sports in most of Southern California, other than the Los Angeles Unified School District and San Diego County.

Paysinger’s memoir “Where A Man Stands,” written with Steven Fenton, made The New York Times list of top 20-selling sports books for November 2014.

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