DALLAS -- Former Dallas Cowboy Deion Sanders is fighting to keep his Prime Prep charter school open as the Texas Education Agency (TEA) tries to shut it down.
But for the first time, News 8 has obtained Dallas police records that detail a different fight that played out between closed doors between Sanders and a former school staffer.
The 2013 melee took place at the charter's Dallas campus and resulted in Sanders being charged with assault. Audio and video recordings reveal the growing tension between the Pro Football Hall of Famer the public face of the school - and D.L. Wallace, the man who was in charge at the time.
Recordings of police interviews reveal how frustration boiled over into a confrontation between 'Prime Time' and Kevin Jefferson, the school's chief financial officer and a close associate of Wallace. He told police that Jefferson was in a 'token position' and that he hadn't done any of the typical job functions of a CFO.
'I just think he saw me as a symbol of everything that was wrong with the situation,' Jefferson told a police investigator.
It's Oct. 9, 2013. There's a staff meeting at Prime Prep's Dallas campus. Sanders is upset. Progress reports haven't been turned in on time. Some athletes may not be able to play.
'A lot of the teachers stood up and said that they didn't have the time,' Sanders told a police detective when he was interviewed. 'They didn't have the resources. They were just fed up. They said, 'Well, we're stretched too thin.''
Teachers told Sanders that they didn't have books and they needed to make copies, but didn't have the codes that they needed to make copies.
Sanders questioned whether the Dallas campus was getting shortchanged. Several of the teachers had previously worked at the Fort Worth campus and indicated that the situation was significantly better there. Witnesses describe Sanders as being passionate about ensuring that the kids to excel academically.
Jefferson told police Sanders said, 'I bet they have everything they need in Fort Worth. Why don't we have what we need here in Dallas?'
He said he told Sanders he didn't know what he was talking about.
'He said, 'Well, my name is on the school. It's my reputation on the line,'' Jefferson told investigators. 'I said, 'I don't care whose name is on the school.''
Witnesses say they felt that Jefferson wasn't respectful to Sanders, and the one-time Cowboys player didn't take it well.
'He just kind of came off as nonchalant about it, like, 'Whatever. I don't care what you're talking about,' said faculty member Jacqueline Grimmett.
Faculty member Dawn Ross told investigators that Jefferson said 'something smart and when I looked back he had this little smirk, and before I could turn back around, Coach Deion was running that way.'
Jefferson stood up.
'He grabbed my collar and had his knuckles up in my throat,' Jefferson said.
Sanders told police that they grabbed each other and bumped chests. Witnesses, however, described Sanders as the aggressor and say that Jefferson fell to the ground.
Coach Jerome Walker, who had walked over to intervene, fell with him. Sanders held Jefferson by the tie. Ross said she had to pry his hands away from the tie as faculty members separated them.
Sanders was cited for assault. But the scuffle made clear a growing divide between Prime Prep's founders.
'There's definitely a split, a divide at this school,' Sanders told an investigator. 'Some of is standing for right for these kids, and some is standing for a check.'
Days later, Sanders was fired, then quickly reinstated.
Then, weeks later, Wallace was out.
Municipal court records show that Sanders pleaded no contest to the assault in December. He still shows to owe a $765.70 fine. He did not respond to a request for comment.
Prime Prep is appealing to the state to stay open as a charter school.