Things only got worse once the schools opened. In its first year, four top boys basketball players were ruled ineligible by the University Interscholastic League, which oversees Texas' high school sports, after they transferred illegally from Arlington Grace Prep with their coach Ray Forsett, whom Prime Prep also poached. In response, Prime Prep withdrew from the UIL and switched to the Texas Christian Association League, a league primarily made of charter schools and private schools. And when two of those players graduated and were ready to accept college scholarships, the NCAA ruled them ineligible, citing problems with Prime Prep's academic curriculum. The NCAA's ruling nearly cost the students their scholarships, though the players successfully appealed.

It's not just top athletes being failed. Parents expected Prime Prep to be a polished college preparatory school, as the name suggests. Instead, Henderson says, they found the lights in the hallway were dim and sometimes flickered, reminding her of a less odorous Abercrombie & Fitch. The paint on the walls was peeling away. A sign on the side of a building, attached by duct tape, warns visitors that a side door is broken.

Tasha Avery's son got three football scholarship offers, she says, but she's not sure he'll have enough school credits to major in chemistry. Lillian Young's son had to retake a math class online to graduate on time.

"The school does not look like a preparatory school, it doesn't feel like it," Henderson says.

The Texas Education Agency, which approved the school's charter application, opened an investigation into both campuses in December, alleging that the school may not have been conducting criminal history reviews of employees; that potential financial conflicts of interest have not been released; that board meetings "may not be held as announced"; and that the teachers may not be "highly qualified" under the No Child Left Behind Initiative, among other allegations.

But none of that has tarnished Sanders' reputation on the Dallas campus. Among the parents whose kids' scholarships seem to rest in Sanders' hands, it has always been D.L. Wallace, the non-athlete in the suit, who was standing in their way.

"The visionary of this school is what made me bring my kid here," says another mother, whose child, a football player, commutes from Plano to the Oak Cliff campus. She accuses other administrators, including Wallace, of purposely trying to sabotage Sanders' school: "It was almost like they were rebelling against the vision that the visionary set for the actual school."


Technically, the parents were right: It was Wallace who was in charge. He had appointed the school board. He was the top staff member. His name, not Sanders', graced the school's application, and when reporters asked Sanders about the school before it opened, he deferred questions to Wallace. On paper, if not in the school's identity, Sanders was little more than an employee.

But as the school got off the ground, it became clear that Sanders answered to no one, and that any deference to Wallace was a facade, a thing of the past, or both. One afternoon, he casually dropped his children off on campus as he was followed by a camera crew, Garza recalls. He was filming a docu-series about his life, scheduled to air on the Oprah Winfrey Network this March.

Wallace claims he knew nothing about it. He wrote a letter to parents arguing that Sanders "would obviously make an undisclosed amount of money" from the show, "but the school would not receive any benefit whatsoever."

Meanwhile, Sanders' temper continued to cause trouble across the Dallas campus. Late last May, Sanders brought some former NFL players to the fieldhouse at the Dallas campus to train, says Sean Allen, a former administrator at the school who worked at both campuses. Allen suspected that the NFL players hadn't signed in, as visitors are supposed to do.

"They didn't get field passes," Allen says. Worse, their presence in the fieldhouse meant that the school's own students couldn't use it. Allen asked Sanders to send the guys away. Sanders said no. Allen suggested that they share the workout equipment with the children, offering a teachable moment in both fitness and compromise.

Sanders wasn't interested. He looked to the other men who had walked in with Allen, including Wallace. "'You better get your nigga," Sanders told them, according to Allen.

"I'm not a nigga," Allen shot back. Sanders ran toward him. He pressed his chest against him. Allen pushed him away, he says, but Sanders put his hands on Allen's throat. Wallace and others pulled the men apart as Sanders challenged Allen "take this to the fieldhouse and finish this up like men do." (Allen later related the story to a small crowd of parents, reporters and school administrators but never went to the police. "I did not call the authorities. I was afraid," he says.)

The next month brought another blowup. Sanders' feud with Wallace was intensifying, and Sanders seemed to be growing insecure about his role at the school. In June, his attorney sent Wallace a series of long complaints, demanding more respect as a business partner.

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16 comments
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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