When Prime Time wasn't admitting to choking his employees or threatening to throw chairs at them and break their necks, he displayed a generous side. In Prime Prep's final year, co-founder Deion Sanders donated $132,937 to the school.
The former Cowboys star worked at the school in an official capacity as the athletic director and was on payroll up until Prime Prep's closure. His annual salary was $49,999, more than what the teachers made but not as high as the salary of, say, ex-superintendent Ron Price, who took in a salary of $92,700 before leaving. But it appears from the school's banking register, released to us through an open records request, that Sanders donated nearly triple the amount of his salary back to the school.
His donations were not nearly enough to save the school from its financial troubles, and a board of Texas Education Agency-appointed officials decided to shutter it on January 30. On the day the school closed, they said the school was nearly $700,000 in the red.
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Sanders' biggest donation to the school was made on October 31 of last year, a full $50,000. Following that amount is an April 2014 donation of $35,000. He made six more donations before the school closed, the most recent one being a $7,500 check on January 6.
There are two popular, competing opinions for why Sanders decided to cofound his ill-fated Prime Prep Academy charter school. The theory flouted by cynical newspaper reporters is that he did it for the money. His recorded threats from last year to get the school closed if he didn't get a raise would seem to suggest that. But his supporters and many of the parents who sent their kids to the school's Dallas campus say he genuinely cared about helping inner-city kids, and thought that creating a school to help them get into college on athletic scholarships was the best way to do that.
Send your story tips to the author, Amy Silverstein.