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Growing up in South Central, Los Angeles, Carter Paysinger probably think he’d succeed beyond his meager surroundings. But thanks to the determination of his mother, however, Paysinger was able to attend one of California’s most prestigious high schools and eventually became its first Black principal.

Paysinger’s mother applied for a multicultural permit that allowed her son to attend Beverly Hills High School, which was outside their district. Although Paysinger said he often felt like a fish out of water around his far more affluent classmates, he powered through it. Paysinger left the school as a celebrated student and athlete, returning to teach and coach sports.

While at the school, Paysinger mentored and coached Steve Fenton, a baseball player who was finding his way. Fenton, who was elected as the youngest member to Beverly Hills Board of Education in 2007, credited Paysinger as someone who helped him excel in life. The pair developed a close friendship despite their 20-year age difference. It was Fenton who lobbied for Paysinger to lead Beverly Hills High, and he was hired in 2010.

Paysinger and Fenton released the New York Times bestselling book, Where A Man Stands, in 2014. It details not only their relationship, but the hurdles Paysinger faced as he tried to turn around the fortunes of the school he loved. While Paysinger was a beloved teacher and coach, many detractors came out of the woodwork to discredit his rise to Beverly Hills High’s principal.

Paysinger stepped down from his position this past July amid allegations of racism and discrimination. He also endured embarrassing revelations in the media about conflicting financial interests which he claims was part of a smear campaign. This year, Paysinger was cleared of any wrongdoing and the Beverly Hills school district agreed to settle with him out of court for $685,000.

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