State to continue funding Prime Prep during charter revocation process

Print
Email
|

by BRETT SHIPP

WFAA

Posted on July 16, 2014 at 6:34 PM

DALLAS — State tax dollars have funded Deion Sanders' Prime Prep Academy charter school since 2012 — an estimated $10 million worth.

Now News 8 has learned your money will continue to pay for the troubled campuses, even as its charter remains in limbo.

Despite the state's finding of major financial deficiencies at Prime Prep, and despite the move to strip the school of its charter, the state will give Prime Prep $213,000 on July 25, its monthly payment for continued operations.

At Prime Prep's Dallas campus Wednesday, tree branches, downed by a storm, littered the front lawn; perhaps a fitting metaphor the day after the Texas Education Agency announced it was stripping Prime Prep's charter to operate.

The TEA, working with the Texas Department of Agriculture, uncovered numerous violations of the federal school lunch program rules. It was discovered by Texas Agriculture Commission investigators beginning in December 2012.

"This particular entity was placed on a serious deficiency notice; they were required to have a corrective action plan," Agriculture Commissioner Todd Staples told News 8 earlier this year.

Then, last fall, another discovery was made: $45,000 paid to Prime Prep officials for lunches that were never served. The blame was placed on co-founder and former chief executive officer D. L. Wallace, whom co-founder Deion Sanders had removed last November.

This spring, the new administrators discussed taking measures to appease state investigators.

"Unfortunately, due to the previous regime, there was a difference in paying for meals in both campuses, and our systems are incomplete, and we are working on it now," said new Prime Prep Academy Superintendent Ron Price at a board meeting last March.

But that money was never repaid, so the state had to act.

In its notice of intent to revoke Prime Prep’s charter, the TEA called the matter a "serious, unsatisfactory financial performance." Prime Prep's ability to access federal lunch program funds has been permanently stripped.

In the same notice, the Texas Education Agency said "it is not in the best interest of students to attend a charter school that is ineligible to participate."

State education officials say they will continue to fund Prime Prep until it exhausts its appeals. They say those appeals could last for months — meaning Prime Prep might be open for business again this fall.

E-mail bshipp@wfaa.com

Print
Email
|