Deion Sanders' Charter School in Danger of Losing Its Charter
Prime Prep Academy, the Texas charter school co-founded by former NFL great Deion Sanders, is in danger of having its charter revoked by the Texas Education Agency.
According to The Dallas Morning News, the state agency is attempting to revoke the charter of Uplift Fort Worth, the parent organization of the Prime Prep campuses in Dallas and Fort Worth, for "improper financial management and failure to comply with the state education code."
The TEA cited the school's removal from the National School Lunch Program—a federally funded program providing free and reduced-price lunch to needy children—as a main reason to strip Prime Prep's charter, according to the paper. "It is not in the best interest of students to attend a charter school that is ineligible for participation in the [National School Lunch Program] or any other child nutrition program administered by [the Texas Department of Agriculture]," the agency said in its letter to Prime Prep.
In April, the Texas Department of Agriculture sent a letter to the school saying it had until May 12 to repay $45,830.92 it received for providing subsidized meals in fall 2013, as the school "provided no documentation that those meals were served but filed claims for the money," the Morning News reported.
Back on July 15, Sanders took to Twitter to lay blame upon his fellow co-founder, D.L. Wallace, who resigned as the school's executive director back in November:
My former Co-Founder DL Wallace was a Crook and Heartless and we are still suffering from his Devilish ways. TEA informed PrimePrep.-- DeionSanders (@DeionSanders) July 15, 2014
They would revoke the charter pending appeal for the Food Program that Wallace hustled the state out of 45,000 $. We will appeal immediately-- DeionSanders (@DeionSanders) July 15, 2014
I will pay the 45,000 myself to right DL Wallace wrong to the state if they will accept it. Don't punish our kids for this Fool. Truth-- DeionSanders (@DeionSanders) July 15, 2014
Even before the school opened in August 2012, Prime Prep faced resistance from some state education officials. The State Board of Education approved the bid to open the school with an 8-4 vote, although one member said, in regard to Sanders' plan to use the online curriculum CSCOPE, "I have no idea what the applicant plans to do in the classroom."
An editorial in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram highlighted some of the issues the school has faced within the past two years:
In its short lifespan, Prime Prep has been the subject of multiple TEA investigations, among them a probe into failures to conduct background checks on employees.
Ending a stormy relationship with the University Interscholastic League, the school withdrew its participation in organized athletics in late 2012.
And the academy has been party to several lawsuits, the latest involving the school's eviction from a church building it was leasing in east Fort Worth and another alleging thousands of dollars yet unpaid for work done by an air-conditioning company.
The school's board met earlier this week—the first time since the state agency's charter-revocation plans surfaced—and vowed to continue its appeal of said process. Superintendent Ron Price told the Morning News that the school is attempting to raise $100,000 to $150,000 to stay afloat, saying, "We've come to a crisis in which we might not be able to make payroll at the end of August."
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