NEWS 8 INVESTIGATES
Serious new allegations are surfacing about problems at Deion Sanders' Prime Prep Academy.
A former Prime Prep contractor tells News 8 he was directed to secretly sell at least 200 student laptops... computers purchased with taxpayer dollars.
Current administrators now confirm laptops are missing, and on Tuesday they lodged a criminal complaint with the Tarrant County District Attorney.
When Prime Prep Academy opened its doors in the fall of 2012, one of the prime attractions was the promise of cutting-edge technology for every student, as co-founder D.L. Wallace explained in a marketing video for the charter school.
While the computers were purchased and being are being used by students, questions have surfaced about what has happened to many of the unused laptops.
Solomon Warner, a maintenance contractor hired by Prime Prep Academy when it first opened in 2012, said he knows. Warner told News 8 he was quietly directed to re-sell dozens of newly-purchased laptops meant for students on Prime Prep's Dallas campus.
"We sold the laptops to three or four different people that I know," Warner said. "They were sold about two weeks after school opened up. I sold between 200 and 250 for about $220 apiece."
Warner said he was paid $100 total to sell the laptop computers, one of which he told us we could find at a liquor store in Dallas. He took us to the shop, and after a quick conversation with one of the employees, they produced the laptop in question.
To make sure, we powered the computer up in hopes we could find evidence of this being one of the missing Prime Prep laptops, paid for by taxpayer funds.
When it powered up, the welcome page opened to the words "Prime" and "Student." Another clue was revealed on the password page, which read "PRIME."
While we were unable to log in, News 8 has provided the computer's serial number to new administrators at Prime Prep Academy who have conducted their own audit, trying to determine exactly how many other computers may be missing from one of the two Prime Prep campuses.
Interim Superintendent Ron Price said the audit confirms Warner's allegations that student laptops are missing.
"I can confirm that there are some missing laptops; I cannot confirm the amount, but I can guarantee you that the amount is significant for me to come to Fort Worth to file an official complaint," he said.
Price traveled to Fort Worth Tuesday morning to meet and lodge a formal, criminal complaint with an assistant district attorney. He said prosecutors are taking the allegations seriously... allegations that may have more serious implications.
"Some of these items that are in question were purchased by federal dollars, which means we expect to have conversations with federal authorities soon about some of our findings of fact and holding people accountable and bringing them to justice in regards to what they've done to children," Price said.
News 8 has reached out to Prime Prep co-founder and former CEO D.L. Wallace for a response to the audit findings. We have yet to hear back.
Wallace resigned as the Prime prep CEO last November. As of Tuesday afternoon, according to Price, Wallace and his wife refuse to relinquish their access to the Prime Prep bank account.
The Prime Prep Board of Directors is scheduled to meet Tuesday night to vote to remove Wallace's access to the school's bank account.
The Texas Education Agency is conducting its own investigation into other alleged violations of state charter school rules.