DALLAS – Three years after Pro Football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders first proposed opening a top-rated charter school, his dream has ended.
Prime Prep Academy announced Friday it will surrender its charter, let the state take over operations, and presumably close a school that was in trouble from the start.
The good news for Prime Prep is one of the new managers appointed this week by the state, says they will work to keep the school open for the rest of the school year.
The bad news that was expected to come next week, actually broke Friday. Prime Prep’s former chairman decided to throw in the towel and surrender the charter, rather than fight a losing battle with the state. The school’s final charter hearing had been scheduled for Tuesday in Austin but the school does not have representation after attorneys withdrew, citing a lack of communication and delinquent payments.
It started last summer, when the state education commissioner announced Prime Prep’s charter was being revoked. Missing federal money, mismanaged contracts, poor test scores, and locked school doors had all but done the fledgling charter school in. The doors were locked when the school failed to pay its rent.
Deion Sanders had been hired and fired and charged with on campus violence. Half the parents had pulled their children out. Over the Christmas break, the superintendent quit when the school ran out of money to pay staff. The school also has not been paying for unemployment insurance.
Late Friday afternoon, former board Chairman T. Chris Lewis told WFAA he was surrendering the school’s charter and will not fight to keep Deion’s dream alive.
One parent at Friday night’s boys’ basketball game agreed.
“It is what it is. It was a good fight, we did what we had to do, so the kids are blessed,” said Shannon White, father of a freshman player. “We still have the opportunity to get a great education somewhere else, so we’re happy.”
“I think students should feel good about where they go to school,” Black said. “I think that if you close a school before the end of the school year, you run the risk of students feeling as if what they were involved in failed. We hope to save them from that embarrassment.”
Sanders did not respond to WFAA’s request for comment regarding the surrender of his school’s charter and was not at the game Friday.