State-appointed board closes school Sanders co-founded

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DALLAS (AP) — The North Texas academy co-founded by NFL Hall of Famer Deion Sanders remains in financial disarray and will close immediately, the Texas education commissioner said Friday.

Commissioner Michael Williams said in a statement that a state-appointed board of managers voted to close the Dallas and Fort Worth campuses of Prime Prep Academy. The board hoped the charter could survive through the academic year, but "the financial resources simply aren't there," Williams said.

He said the "upheaval" of finding other schools for hundreds of students for the balance of the school year could have been avoided had academy leaders earlier "acknowledged their financial issues."

"It is unfortunate that those who remained committed to learning on these campuses — the students and teachers — are the ones who will be affected most by circumstances out of their control," Williams said.

Attendance at the two campuses had dropped to fewer than 300 students, down nearly 50 percent from last year, The Dallas Morning News reported. Funding from the state is based on attendance.

An administrative judge earlier this week granted a default judgment that effectively revoked the school's state charter.

School Superintendent Alan King notified staff Tuesday that the school had about half the money needed to meet Friday's more than $200,000 payroll, according to the newspaper. More state aid wasn't expected for several more weeks, and King also has said the school was contending with $500,000 in debt.

T. Christopher Lewis, board president of Uplift Fort Worth, which holds the Prime Prep Academy charter, previously told the newspaper that the judge's default judgment against the school had been expected.

"We as a board fought as hard as we could to turn the ship around," Lewis said. "At the end of the day, we just couldn't overcome the obstacles."

In a statement posted on his Twitter account early this week, Sanders said he had hoped the Texas Education Agency and the school's board would allow the school to complete the school year.

The academy was awarded its charter in 2011 and it opened to students a year later.

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