But while Wallace isn't a celebrity, he's also not an educator. So he wasn't the guy teachers and parents in Fort Worth turned to when they needed something. In Fort Worth, the person who had things functioning like something resembling a school was Prime Prep's assistant superintendent and de facto principal, Rachel King-Sanders. (She's not related to Deion Sanders.)

King-Sanders has been certified by the State Board of Education since 2007 to teach regular and special education and work as a principal. Prime Prep performed poorly on Texas Education Agency's recent curriculum test, parents acknowledge. But so had the other public schools nearby.

"I could email her, I could call her. Her door was always open for parents," says Nina Roberts, a mother at the Fort Worth campus. "I think she did an excellent job."

Another mother sent her 9-year-old daughter there after getting an automated phone call. She didn't make the Deion Sanders connection until a friend pointed it out. "I didn't want her associated with him," she says. But she also didn't like the public school her daughter attended. So Prime Prep it was.

And at first, she loved it. The teachers put her at ease, and she liked King-Sanders, too. "She was phenomenal," Webb says. And dedicated: While juggling the involved parents and young teachers, she also taught speech therapy and special education. She worked long hours, colleagues say, often going home for just a few hours of sleep.

She was rewarded for that work last fall when Wallace promoted her to superintendent of both schools. And when word got out to police and the media that Sanders may have assaulted a school employee, she did what any responsible superintendent would do: She fired him.

In Fort Worth, news that she'd booted the school's namesake didn't much affect her reputation. It was just another news story about that bizarre campus in Dallas, the things teachers and parents in Fort Worth tried their hardest to ignore, even as more teachers began leaving and the school seemed to grow more disorganized. The teachers still working at the school in December were happy to hear from King-Sanders that she would be back at the Fort Worth campus more often.

"We were excited because we thought we got her back," a teacher says. But as they and their beloved principal would soon learn, Dallas was where the power was, and Dallas had what Fort Worth didn't: big-time high school sports.


In a country that worships athletes, under-prepares its kids for college and overcharges them to go, having your kid go to college on a sports scholarship might be some parents' last chance at attaining the American dream. And it's a dream that Sanders and Wallace have sold before.

In 2010, they joined forces to create a book called the PrimeTimePlayer Pages. For a fee, parents could put their student athletes inside of a "look book" that would be sent to more than 500 colleges and universities.

The project fell apart. The books never went out, and Sanders and Wallace got hit with a $1.8 million fraud lawsuit from investors.

The case was eventually dropped and the controversy melted away, as they always do with Sanders. And soon, Sanders and Wallace were back in Dallas' poorest neighborhoods, selling parents on that same dream, only with Prime Prep there was one major difference: This time, taxpayers would foot the bill.

For many of the parents, Sanders was not an unfamiliar pitchman. He's been claiming to groom kids for college sports since 2007 through his Prime Time Association, a nonprofit that organizes a sports summer camp and an elite private sports league called Truth. For $250 each season, parents say, kids can be coached by one of the NFL's greatest players.

"We totally believe in the vision. We've seen firsthand what he had done with our son," says Catrina Henderson, the Vice President of the Prime Prep Academy's Prime Time Sports Academy in Dallas.

Henderson didn't hear about Prime Prep from an automated phone call. She heard about the school directly from Sanders. Her son played football in the Truth sports league. He already went to a good school, but he transferred to Prime Prep anyway. "We'd seen what he had done with countless other kids," she says.

The concept, as Sanders and Wallace pitched it to state regulators, would be a school that helped top athletes get into college. It impressed Charlie Garza, who at the time served on the State Board of Education. His committee approved the charter. Shortly after, Wallace hired Garza away.

As principal of the Dallas campus last year, Garza quickly bonded with Sanders. He, too, supports Sanders' vision. "He believes, to his core, that some kids are very athletic but don't have the academics to go with it," Garza says of Sanders. "His vision is to combine the two." Garza was honored when Sanders asked him for a favor at the close of Prime Prep's first school year: "'Will you call me Prime?'"

Whatever Sanders' vision, the execution has been infamously sloppy from Day One. The initial charter application claimed corporate partnerships that didn't exist, plagiarized other schools' applications and included a scam by Wallace to pay himself rent with taxpayer money. State regulators caught the problems and approved the charter anyway.

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17 comments
skelton.michael
skelton.michael

This article gives you a full understanding of why Mr. Sanders is such a spiritual man. It's because he knows that if God hand't blessed him with such speed and athleticism, he would probably be a trustee of a different sort of institution.

Fred-dorfman76
Fred-dorfman76

Not only should the school be shut down, CPS should take away custody from any parent who was dumb enough to send their kids to this pseudo school.  Even if you buy the premise that Deion is in it for the kids, you have to concede that he got in way over his head.  Putting together a school is not like putting together a football camp Deion, you dumb fucking jock. 

docharleyday1
docharleyday1

This poor guy has received nothing but bad from everybody he has attempted to help. Nobody understands what he's trying to accomplish, and they take advantage of him and refuse to cooperate fully. He has a lofty vision that transcends the ordinary Joe Blow, and when people he's taken in to get on his team don't do a satisfactory job for him he's going to let them know it. He wants results, he wants effort, he wants dedication, he wants honesty, and he's just not getting it from the people he's paying. Who can blame him for being upset? Anybody who has put his whole life into something this important would be upset. We are only getting a biased picture from those who have not done their job as he wants them to do it. Remember, he has a side also. I've never seen him in my life, but from everything I've read about him I think he's an unusually great guy.

smichaelclark591
smichaelclark591

This is not a Charter School and should be shut down.  Those of us that live here in the Southern Sector are sick of this shit

gordonhilgers
gordonhilgers

I am certain Ms. Silverstein is fine with a pen, but she doesn't have to use pink construction paper, nor does she have to grind that brassy pen fit to score the sheet.  Honestly.  I am not happy with Silverstein's lead. 

For one, Ms. Silverstein, you left out the most important aspect of Deion Sanders' professional career: absolutely masterful athlete, so damned top-drawer he did not even have to try.

Simply because Sanders used his muscle and mind to defeat most of the National Football League even on a bad day, putting him in a "stadium of a frustrating social condition" simply to prep herself, Ms. Silverstein seems to have deliberately forgotten how Sanders became a master of a sport that, while most professional sports no longer interest me as they did when I was younger, is hard-core and one hell of a better hobby than buying cole slaw at KFC from some dude that wears a Colonel Sanders goatee as if goatees are some kind of joke. 

I deeply respect Deion Sanders' willingness to bring charter schools to South Dallas, the area typically ignored by white power in Dallas, left to the "car seat on the porch" syndrome, a bit of social commentary so masterful it is amazing the white-boys cannot even dream about what that may mean: 

How does, "We are not getting in your damned car!" sound, Ms. Silverstein?  Is that a strong enough statement here in regard to you labeling Deion Sanders first of all "a celeb"? 

Here we are, people, almost 70 years since Rosa Parks and her intently competent friends decided to drive the Southlands to show Mississippi, Alabama and all the other Eddie Haskells in "th' hood" how "goin' down South" actually feels, and yet here we are still, having to put-up with "writerly recklessness" in regards to a man who is working hard to make something happen for some of the poorest people in one big doughnut of a city. 

I'm still wondering when The City of Dallas is going to take my suggestion and park some huge, orange dumpster trucks right in the impasses that allow Highland and University Parkies out of the doughnut hole to wreak havoc in Dallas for "crappie and giggles". 

That is a suggestion.  Sometimes you have to put a steel dog chain halter on the ponies and lead them to the paddock when they refuse to do it their own damned selves. 

barron50
barron50

This school gives other Charter Schools (great ones too) a bad name. 

This school should be closed or if D. Sanders is all about the kids them make it a private school and he can fully fund it with the money he was blessed with. 

Let TEA do a Full investigation.

Blackman2day
Blackman2day

Long story can be shortened to this:  2 crooked con men with no education and no experience educating kids wanted a charter school.  Their primary motive was money!  Free, taxpayer money!  They got a State Senator (Royce West) and the Education Commissioner (Robert Scott) to push the application through, even though the application was filled with lies and deception and fraud.  After the school opened, and the money started flowing, their greed continued to grow.  Each wanted more and more, and each wanted more than the other.  An exorbitant salary wasn't enough for one, and a TV show with an undisclosed  amount of money wasn't enough for the other.  Their greed had no bounds.  They turned on each other and began accusing each other.  But the truth is as from the beginning, both are con men.

Blackman2day
Blackman2day

@docharleyday1 Deion is not paying anyone anything.  Period.  The taxpayers of Texas are paying these salaries... including Deion's.  Deion has never contributed one dime to this school.  He and DL Wallace submitted a list of corporate donors (financial backers), but this turned out to be a made-up lie.  Deion doesn't care about result, effort, dedication, honesty or any of the other virtues you listed.  Deion wants MONEY!  Deion wants to inflate his ego!  Deion want to enlarge the façade of Deion being a good guy!

benwellsstreet
benwellsstreet

Yea it's super great how he chokes his employees...

Blackman2day
Blackman2day

@gordonhilgers Wow.  You must be a Deion sniffer... you talk just like him.  Makes no sense at all!  You're trying to sound intelligent, but you don't possess a full understanding of the words you are using.  So it all comes out as gobbly-gook.

wcvemail
wcvemail

@gordonhilgers Did you take a nap after all that? If so, I hope your dreams weren't as confusing as your post.

wcvemail
wcvemail

@Blackman2day That ringing sound? Oh, that was Mr. Blackman2day hitting the nail on the head.

Cowtown
Cowtown

@Blackman2day Pretty much business as usual in the Dallas African-American community. Too bad that it spilled over to Fort Worth.

 
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