The Fort Worth campus of Prime Prep Academy, the charter school co-founded by Deion Sanders, has moved to another property after lease disagreements with Charity Church.
Prime Prep Fort Worth Moves, Cites Lease Issues With Church
Prime Prep Academy, the charter school co-founded by Deion Sanders, is in a financial dispute with the church housing the school. The church said the school is in default, but the school said the lease is illegal. (Published Friday, March 28, 2014)
Updated at 5:57 AM CDT on Monday, Mar 31, 2014
A fight over money and the building's lease with the church led to the school's move into a different building this week.
Charity Church, which leases the building at the the 4000 block of Panola Avenue, said Prime Prep owed rent and is responsible for several tax liens placed on the building. But the school said the lease the church is referring to, is illegal and many of the tax liens appear fraudulent.
There were no students at the Panola Avenue location on Friday, just Tarrant County Constables in the afternoon re-opening the building so that the school could get some of its property back.
Charity Church changed the locks, chained some doors and posted a notice of lockout on the doors after Prime Prep moved to another building.
The note said Prime Prep owes the church $18,000 in rent and has $83,691.03 in delinquent charges that have led to tax liens.
Prime Prep is now renting an adjacent piece of property on Vinson Street .
"We're not bad guys, we want the kids to get an education we just want people to pay their bills," Bishop F.R. Mays said.
Bishop Mays showed members of the news media various documents, including a lease agreement signed in October of last year, as well as several lien notices.
One notice said Zomax Inc., is owed $115,681.39 for it's work at the school. Prism Electric also placed a lien on the church, for $26,691.03. Mays also showed paperwork that said that lien was removed after $23,691.03 was paid. Mays said the church paid that lien off, but the superintendent of Prime Prep said the school paid the owed amount as well.
Mays said he expects more liens to be filed. He also said he didn't know what work was done at the facility by the companies claiming that they had not been paid. Mays is primarily concerned with the liens, but he also said the church was owed rent.
"We asked them to pay, they were in default of their lease, they have been in default of their lease since February," Mays said.
Ron Price, who took over the charter school in January, said many of the liens appear to be bogus and that the lease that says monthly rent is $18,000 is illegal.
"I don't want Prime Prep any longer affiliated with corruption and what we have here is corrupt," Price said, referring to the lease.
The lease he said is illegal, is the one Mays showed NBC 5 on Friday. It was signed on Oct. 1, 2013 by Mays and Kevin Jefferson, then Director of Finance for Prime Prep.
Price said Jefferson did not have the authority to sign such a document and since a prior lease already existed; it was irrelevant.
However, Price said he paid the full rent when he took over and that he's paid up through April. He says he paid the money because he was worried about the children attending school and that the school planned to move to this other facility by the spring to end the relationship with Charity Church.
"I refuse to pay any more tax payer dollars on a phony, false lease that should not be honored in the first place," Price said.
Jefferson was let go by the charter school earlier this year. Jefferson is the man whom Sanders got into a scuffle with at the Dallas campus last October, eight days after this lease was signed.
Price provided NBC 5 with a copy of a lease signed by then Executive Director of Prime Prep Academy, also known as Uplift Fort Worth CDC, D.L. Wallace and Mitch Felder, Charity Church's Senior Pastor. It says the lease started on July 1, 2012 and runs through June 30, 2015.
It said "leasee shall NOT be required to pay rent under this Agreement." The lease is also filed with the state because Prime Prep is a charter school, Price said.
Price said that it paid the Prism lien and has asked other companies that allege they've done work on behalf of the school to submit a breakdown of the work they did. He said he has not heard from any of those companies and he believes some of the liens may be bogus.
Mays did not return NBC 5's call for comment on Friday afternoon to respond to Price's comments, allegations and lease copy.