News 8 Investigates
NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders is used to the spotlight but now, it may be too bright for even him.
He is not only accused of assaulting one of his charter school administrators, he is blasting the co-founder of his Prime Prep Academy. It’s a situation that has become so serious that state officials say they are prepared to intervene.
Dallas police are investigating allegations that Sanders assaulted one of his administrators at school staff meeting Wednesday. The alleged victim, Kevin Jefferson, a finance director at Prime Prep Academy says Sanders grabbed his neck and shoved him into a wall.
While Sanders admits there was an altercation, there was not assault.
“[Jefferson] was not beat up. He was not hit. He was none of that," Sanders told News 8 by phone Thursday.
But Sanders did not stop there.
"Mr. Jefferson and I got into a confrontation about the welfare of these kids. And we’ll get into another one," he said. "Until you start taking care of these kids, I’m going to be on a rampage."
At that point, Sanders began to paint a picture of mismanagement and academic failures at his own Prime Prep Academy.
He blames one man in particular -- his business partner and Prime Prep Academy co-founder D.L. Wallace.
Wallace is in charge of the day-to-day operations of the tax-payer funded charter school, now into its second year.
But Prime Prep barely opened last year when the troubles began, including allegations of sub-standard building conditions, of improper recruiting of student athletes, and of how Wallace - a marketer and motivational speaker with no experience in education - was paying himself a six-figure salary.
What was billed as a cutting edge, computer curriculum, called “V-Schoolz," News 8 exposed as merely an online credit recovery program. As for academic achievement, Prime Prep Academy failed to meet state standards last year and remains under academic evaluation by the NCAA, jeopardizing the college eligibility of its blue-chip prospects.
Alex Burns was hired last year to teach an after-school program at the Prime Prep primary school campus.
"We saw it the first day, and we just kind of thought, 'What is this and what did we get ourselves in to,'" Burns said.
She told News 8 regular teachers at the Fort Worth campus seemed to have no idea what to teach and to whom. Burns said much of the curriculum appeared to be age inappropriate.
"They had kindergartners and first graders who had crossword puzzles that had 'What happened in the renaissance,'” Burns said. “The Renaissance? Those children can't even read."
Since the beginning of the year, News 8 was the only outside party to attend one of Prime Prep's board meetings and there have only been two. Neither time did the C.E.O. Wallace attend in person. The Board of Directors has yet to formally approve this year's budget.
Now, for the first time, Deion Sanders himself is joining the chorus of criticism, blaming the schools troubles on his partner.
“D.L. Wallace is no good. He’s a snake,” Sanders said. “He ain’t no good. All he is there for is money. I’ve got African American kids dropping out of school. I’m trying to keep them in school, get them through college. This dude is trying to get a check.”
Of the so-called cutting-edge computer curriculum once touted by Wallace, Sanders said,"“V-Schoolz was a huge failure. All the computers that were bought never made it. Where are they?”
Last November, News 8 interviewed State School Board Member Mavis Knight of Lancaster who expressed regrets of having voted to award Prime Prep Academy a state charter two years ago. We reached her by phone Thursday.
"My only comment to that would be that if there are individuals who have knowledge of mismanagement,” Knight said, “that needs to be reported to the Texas Education Agency."
A spokesperson with the TEA told News 8 they were "very troubled by all the allegations that are emerging," and encouraged anyone with information to contact the agency.
We asked D.L. Wallace to respond to Sanders allegations and he declined.
Sanders’ alleged victim, Kevin Jefferson, also declined to comment. But since Jefferson did not suffer a major injury, the most Sanders would likely face is a citation and a small fine.