Deion Sanders' Charter School Doesn't Have -- and May Have Trouble Getting -- City Approval to Open Its Dallas Campus

deion sanders prime prep.jpg
Patrick Michels
At a town hall, Deion Sanders told parents that his Prime Prep Academy owned the church building where the school would be held. But records tell a different story.
Prime Prep Academy, the charter school co-founded by former Cowboy Deion Sanders, recently accepted more than 1,100 students for its inaugural school year, and hundreds of those students are slated to attend its campus in Oak Cliff.

The question is whether that campus will even be available to the school.

State law requires Prime Prep to provide certificates of occupancy -- city documents certifying a building's compliance with applicable regulations -- for both its Dallas and Fort Worth campuses before students flood through the doors. But records show that Prime Prep doesn't have those certificates, and the records raise questions about whether the school can get them in time -- questions that, as has become pattern, the school can't or won't answer.

When Sanders met with parents at a church campus on Ann Arbor Avenue earlier this year, he assured them the campus belonged to Prime Prep.

"We own this building," he said, and then explained the relationship with a charter school that was currently using some of the space. "[Life School] is renting from us. Their lease is up because we're assuming the building now. We don't need to rent it out, because now we have a school, so that's how it goes."

Actually, records show that the campus is owned by Full Gospel Holy Temple, whose officials did not return several calls. Life School operates mostly out of a campus adjacent to the church, although officials there said it does lease a gym and weight room on the future Prime Prep campus. Its lease is up in the next few months, Life School officials said, at which point Prime Prep is supposed to take over the space.

But Prime Prep doesn't hold the certificate of occupancy on any of the buildings on its own alleged campus. And because the main space -- an auditorium and classrooms -- hasn't been used recently as a school, city officials say Prime Prep will have to apply for a special zoning permit to operate one there. That zoning process typically takes over three months, commonly takes four or five months or more, and requires city council approval.

Getting the certificate for a second, smaller classroom building could prove difficult as well. If a facility is used for education, it can continue to be used for that purpose by a new organization as long as no more than six months lapses without use, Phil Sikes, the city's Assistant Building Official, told Unfair Park. Life School, which holds the certificate of occupancy for three of the four buildings Prime Prep claims to own, used the secondary classrooms until about six months ago. That means Prime Prep could soon need to apply for the more complicated zoning permit for that building too.

Sikes said that if Prime Prep could make a good case for why it should not have to undergo the arduous zoning process, an exception could be made. "It's going to depend what they present to us as evidence," Sikes said. But he called plans to open in August under such circumstances "ambitious."

Even if Prime Prep does get city approval to use the Oak Cliff campus, there remain questions about its arrangement there. Life School officials told the Observer it was renting the gym from not from Full Gospel church, the building's owner, but from Pinnacle Commercial Property, the real estate company owned by D.L. Wallace, Sanders' business partner and Prime Prep's co-founder.

It's unclear why Pinnacle is serving as the landlord for a building it doesn't own, but the arrangement recalls a controversy surrounding Prime Prep's Fort Worth campus. In the school's original charter application, it included an agreement to lease space at Fort Worth's Charity Curch from Pinnacle Commercial Property, which claimed to own Charity Church's building. That meant Wallace stood to profit from the rent his own nonprofit school would pay.

And why would the church let a real estate company collect rent on its space? Perhaps because the church's bishop, FR Mays, happened to have a side gig as an executive with Pinnacle Commercial Property. (Mays has denied any familiarity with the school or the real estate company, despite records connecting him to both.)

Perhaps there's an explanation for why Life School is paying rent to D.L. Wallace, and whether Prime Prep plans to pay him the same rent. Whatever it is, we won't likely know for a while. Sanders and Wallace have refused to be interviewed, and the Texas Education Agency, which regulates charter schools, says it doesn't need to know the details of the school's facilities arrangements until August, when the school opens its doors.

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34 comments
Michael Williams
Michael Williams

Go Deion, GO!  Me and my family are with you all the way!  I will send you my resume, maybe I can pitch in and help in some way.  I am a Computer Scientist.

Michael Williams
Michael Williams

The Prime Prep academy started by Mr. Sanders and his partners is a very important first step in developing a culture among Black people to stop relying on The United States Department of Education, who's priority it is, and always has been, to make sure that Black children do not learn and to ensure that Black children are not able to compete in a global market.  The majority of public school teachers are lazy, uninspiring, disenchanted, inept and lack the fresh energy and ideas needed to stimulate greatness in Black Children and create champions.  Mr. Sanders has experienced World Class success in everything that he has ever done.  Yes, like all trailblazers there are some technical issues that need to be worked out, but it is the "vision" that we hope will become infectious and start a cultural revolution all across America of Black communities rekindling in themselves the desire to be GREAT!

Bettyculbreath
Bettyculbreath

This is done all the time by people in real estate business.All up and down Dallas city streets owners have dba's in verious names leasing property they own.Dallas City Hall is not going to hold up any permit for Prime Time you can bet your life on it.

Sixthfloor1500marilla
Sixthfloor1500marilla

Remember 6-8 years ago when Deion Sanders, J Don "DallasAchieves" Williams, Jon Edmonds, banker Norm Bagwell, Killingsworth, Suhm and host of wondrous local philanthropy saints all stood up in Jeffries-Meyers neighborhood near Fair Park and said they were going to Rebuild South Dallas by building 1000 homes right there on Meyers? Yeah, not much follow-up on these vanity projects.

You can still cruise by the vacant lots though.

Jeneheffer
Jeneheffer

Are he and JWPrice using the same play book of leadership? Bordering on illegal and yet stupid enough for anyone to recognize as such. 

Guest
Guest

Is Uplift involved? I thought I read that it was but see no mention in this article.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

While it is PRIME TIME  for Deion to toss some cash over the transom .He is still an interloper in the Charter School world 

On the surface he might be welcome But below the surface ?He is using the Big Name advantage to push others out as he makes his way into a already crowded field of other Charter school KINGS who have the market cornered when it comes to Students and how to use the system .They might not be so willing to give up star players to the new kid in town .Who knows what might come out if folks ticked off about that ?

Sanders Kaufman
Sanders Kaufman

A for-profit, faith-based, school with wildly complex ownership structures and a conspicuous lack of ordinary business licensing.I really feel sorry for the kids whose parents stick them here - and deprive them of the education they deserve.

Omar Jimenez
Omar Jimenez

At this rate, ethier with his ex or his school I'm getting bored with him.

MariaB
MariaB

Yuk. I think I need a shower. 

MushMouth1
MushMouth1

Deion will just spread some green around and suddenly all of the needed permits will appear.

Deion is Joke
Deion is Joke

This is just unbelievable! When is someone gonna stop this run-a-way train. The TEA statement about waiting for August is a BIG JOKE! Deion has proven to be a buffoon who'd parade his kids on twitter and in front of the camera to protect his image. He's an absentee Dad and a narcissistic adulterer and wife abuser.  Check the the interview Pilar gave with Good Morning America yesterday where she states Deion is using the fictional character PrimeTime he created to hookwink the public and the media for money. That's explain the charter school mess....Its for Money. Must be the Money! That's a song he wrote and produce years ago. He's a bonafide loser that pale around with savory people.

Blackman
Blackman

The last sentence in this article is the most profound of all.  Basically, the TEA is saying that we will wait until all of the kids are transferred from their current school and all of the new school rosters are set, before we step in and close the school down because of violations.  Then, all affected schools have to scramble to reroute this students and their records.  The athletes may lose eligibility because they weren't enrolled in time.  The TEA is an agency that seems inept and ineffective.  Why are they just sitting back and allowing this fiasco to continue?  If the TEA wants this school to go forward, why not get in there now and guide them through the process so that the school will be fully compliant before opening day?  Sanders, Wallace and Mays are creeps!  But the TEA is creepier!!!

Disgruntled
Disgruntled

Dallas will grant whatever zoning approval or exception or exemption is required.  Dallas city management will do anything to avoid a charge of racism, that would surly result if this school had to follow the same laws as everyone else.

Think My Brother
Think My Brother

 Mr. Williams,

You reminds me of the Manchurian Candidate. Did Deion and these comnen plant a chip in your head? Yes, the FBI has done some horrible thing to our people in the past. MLK comes to mind. Does Deion have a degree? Do we need novices and crooks educationing our kids? Let me tell you, I know Deion and he's not what he says he is. Deion plays this God thing. No real man will twitter their kid photos filling out an criminal complaint against their mother. Now, do you condone that behavior, you seem to be a lackey for these professional conmen. Go Deion, Go! Go Where?

Blackman2day
Blackman2day

You really seem to be a big supporter of Deion Sanders.  That's cool, I'm sure you have your reasons.  Deion may have a heart of gold, but he has surrounded himself with a couple of very unsavory characters (Wallace and Mays).  All I can ask you and any other parent that is considering placing their child in the care of these men is to really do your homework.  All of the records, applications, notices, documents, etc... are public record.  Call the TEA and ask for a copy of the application.  Contact the City of Dallas and ask for a copy of the Certificate of Occupancy.  Call the companies that they list as sponsors and contributors to see if they indeed make such commitments.  As a Black man, I would want this school to succeed as it would benefit our children and community.  But, I also know how damaging it is when Blacks swindle other Blacks, especially under the guise of "helping our people".  And if you are honest, and take off your "mad" hat for a second, you will admit that not only is this possible, it has happened before.  Repeatedly.  So, if we are going to start a cultural revolution as you say, let's do it with integrity and dignity; and leave all of the shady stuff out.

Oak Cliff Townie
Oak Cliff Townie

This is sooooo Not about Race I think Mr Sanders needs to be worried about the Angry Parents he will have to deal with when this Vision has a melt down.Because he sure isn't acting like there will be any Glitches Bugs or Problems come the start of School.Guess What Mr Williams, People Being People ....Of any color want to believe all the really wonderful things someone has told the to be true .

As you say " Mr. Sanders has experienced World Class success in everything that he has ever done."People are going to expect nothing less .  From the very day the Doors open .He better be able to Back up his Promises I heard he has already signed up to do a reality Show about the project .

What we have Mr Williams is a CART is way out in front of the horse .

mideon2000
mideon2000

"The majority of public school STUDENTS are lazy, uninspiring, disenchanted, inept and lack the fresh energy and ideas needed to stimulate greatness in THEIR PEERS and create champions."

There I fixed it. And just so you know you aren't doing your race any favors by being a racist biggot. You sound like your doing exactly what you don't want people to do according to your other posts, and that is to judge. I guess black people are the only ones who have ever been poor huh? You are also putting the white race on a pedalstal by saying they "work to see us "down". Are you implying they are already superior, or simply that they are the top race, while blacks are merely on the bottom and powerless to change their situation? C'mon, give your fellow black men and women some credit! There are many successful ones out there and i'm sure they didn't get there by race bashing and complaining about being held down.

Joe Tone
Joe Tone

No. Deion and his business partner cleverly named the non-profit corporation that's sponsoring the school "Uplift Forth Worth," but it has nothing to do with Uplift Education, the charter-school chain in Dallas.

Mike Rawlins
Mike Rawlins

Me, too.

And by that, I mean, I think you need a shower.

Michael Williams
Michael Williams

What evidence do you have that Mr. Sanders is an absentee Dad?   What evidence do you have that Mr. Sanders is a wife abuser?  What is a  "buffoon" and what evidence do you have that Mr. Sanders is a "buffoon"?  Mr. Sanders is a "loser"? In what way?

Ron Dean
Ron Dean

calm down pilar, i told you the money is coming soon...lol .. youll belive anything, but more important, you are stupid enough to have all the facts about someone you hate....youre  broke .i can smell your broke a** from here.

Michael Williams
Michael Williams

So you mean to tell me that you have contacted the City of Dallas and reviewed the Certificate of Occupancy? Then proceeded to call the people on the Sponsors and Contributors list. If these are not FBI surveillance activities then I haven't seen any yet. You're "Five O", you're a snitch, you're an informant. Do you do that kind of time-consuming, intensive research every time somebody applies for a Charter school, anywhere in Texas?

Just as the FBI planted snitches, informants and spys within the ranks of the Black Panther Party, I believe you have been planted here to cause dissension, thwart these efforts and turn the Black community against the Black community.  I do not believe that you are "Black".  Because a Black Man would not use the term simply "Blackman2day" as a moniker; Black Men are more creative than that.  EVERYBODY!! Say hello to the FBI. He's "Five O" y'all.

Joyce Foreman
Joyce Foreman

Joe,

I think all of the UPlift schools in this area come under UPlift Education.  Check out their website   www.uplifteducation.org.  Uplift Fort Worth is a part of Uplift Education...  Uplift Fort Worth is a part of Uplift Education..

Jay
Jay

 You say "cleverly." Others might more accurately say "deceptively."

Blackman2day
Blackman2day

White-boy?  No!  I am African descent with skin blacker than yours.  So, for me, it's not a race thing.  It a truth thing.  It doesn't matter if the school is in Oak Cliff or Highland Park, right is right and wrong is wrong.  If a man lies and cheat, it's wrong and he should be called on it.  In addition to that, I can't stand "brothers" who exploit our people for money.  You may be a Deion fan, but do some research.  Don't just take Sanders, Wallace, and Mays word for everything.  I assure you, if you take the time and research the facts, you will see why they're creeps.

Bob
Bob

Its MY FU****NG buisness when you spend my tax dollars first FU***NG up those kids. and then MORE of MY tax dollars trying to UNF**K thos kids. YOu don't want our imput thats fine. Don't attempt to FUCK us out of  our money.

Dezjimmar
Dezjimmar

No Joyce, they are not.  Uplift Fort Worth is a separate entity from Uplift Education.  Uplift Fort Worth, CDC is a non-profit, 501(C)3 organization (www.upliftfortworth.org) that was began by D.L. Wallace.  They have been strongly warned by the more established and successful and name-recognized Uplift Education to include disclaimers that they are in no way associated.  I agree with Jay, this is a very deceptive move.  These men (Wallace, Sanders, Mays) are con men who play the long game.  In others words, if it takes 2 years to capitalize, they don't mind.  They know that the financial payoff will be huge.

Joyce Foreman
Joyce Foreman

Did they not use Uplift's name to get their charter?

Setting the Record Straight
Setting the Record Straight

Uplift Education is opening two schools this fall in Fort Worth. They have nothing to do with Deion Sanders. Uplift has operated schools for 16 years...it will be operating 23 schools this fall educating 7,000 students with another 10,000 on their wait list. They have kindly but firmly asked Deion and Prime Time to stop using the name Uplift to little avail.

Michael Williams
Michael Williams

I asked you a simple question that deserves a simple answer.  You called them creeps,  what makes them creeps?  It is ok to accuse them of being "creeps", but I would just like to see you "back that up" and substantiate that with some facts that can be corroborated.  Are you not able to do that?  Now produce the evidence that makes them creeps!

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