FORT WORTH — A state district judge ordered Prime Prep Academy and Charity Church — where the school held classes until the end of March — into mediation in hopes of settling a dispute over a lease agreement.During a hearing Wednesday state District Judge John Chupp ordered the church and school to begin mediation proceedings in two weeks. Chupp also extended a temporary restraining order for two weeks, and the school will continue not paying rent to the church for the time being.Charity Church and Prime Preparatory Academy are fighting over a lease that called for the school to pay $18,000 a month in rent.The lease was agreed to by former Superintendent D.L. Wallace, who left Prime Prep for a position at Charity Church earlier this year.Prime Prep was co-founded in 2011 by pro football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders and Wallace, his business partner at the time.Prime Prep and Charity Church had an arrangement where the school could use the building rent-free for three years, but differences arose when the church claimed that the academy was using the building beyond agreed upon hours and that some equipment was damaged or missing.Prime moved its classes to a building at 614 Griggs Ave., which is not owned by the church, and filed suit against Charity Church and Bishop Fredrick Mays, alleging that an unauthorized lease was put in to place without the knowledge of the board. The suit requested that a temporary restraining order be issued against the church to keep the academy from paying rent and to keep church officials out of the building used by the school.During Wednesday’s hearing, Rebecca Hicks, an attorney representing Prime Academy, and John Fraser, an attorney for Charity Church, said they would discuss concerns about missing property.Prime Prep is also in hot water with a contractor, Zomax Inc., that filed suit in February against Wallace and Sanders for breach of contract after the company received partial payment for extensive renovations to the building at 4400 Panola Ave.The renovations included repairs to plumbing and to the boiler room, repairing and building new walls in the building, painting inside as well as painting and repairing benches and fences outside the building. Other work included installing new tile and windows along with water heaters and gas lines to meet city codes. The company should have received $125,181.39 in payment for the work, but was paid only $40,570, leaving $84,611.39 in unpaid bills, according to the suit.The Texas Education Agency is also investigating Prime Prep for various concerns, including real estate transactions, fingerprinting of staff, financial management and accessibility, spokeswoman DeEtta Collins said.
Elizabeth Campbell, 817-390-7696 Twitter: @fwstliz