Prime Prep sues after being evicted from Fort Worth church building

04/02/2014 8:55 AM

04/02/2014 8:56 AM

Four days after Prime Prep Academy was evicted from a church building in east Fort Worth, the school is suing its landlord and is seeking a temporary restraining order and a temporary injunction against Charity Church and its representative, Fredrick Mays.

The suit was filed late Tuesday in Tarrant County civil court.

Rebecca Hicks, an attorney representing Prime Academy Fort Worth, said she could not comment on the litigation but said academy classes were meeting in a building at 614 Griggs Ave. that the academy was already using for some classes. The building is behind Charity Church, 4400 Panola Ave., which the academy also used until Friday, when it was locked out by Mays.

Mays could not be reached to comment Tuesday evening.

According to the suit, Charity Church “[failed] to honor its commitment to support Prime Prep Academy by providing a building for operation of the school rent free for [three] years. Instead, Charity Church used an unauthorized and apparently fraudulent second lease to strong arm the school into paying over $108,000.00 in rent that it did not owe, or risk disruption of classes.”

The troubled academy — co-founded by football Hall of Famer Deion Sanders and his then-business partner, D.L. Wallace — and the church reached an impasse over rent payments, as reported last week by WFAA. Mays told WFAA that school administrators stopped paying the $18,000 in monthly rent they owed.

The court filing suggests that Wallace and his wife, Chazma Jones, and the school’s finance director, Kevin Jefferson, entered into a second lease, which included paying rent and utilities, without the knowledge of the board of Uplift Fort Worth, the parent organization of Prime Prep, and that they have a business relationship with Mays outside the academy.

The suit is seeking a temporary injunction to keep Mays or other church officials from entering the Prime Academy campus on Panola Avenue; from interfering with the academy’s right to possess the church premises; and from collecting unauthorized rents and expenses. Also the plaintiffs seek to keep Mays from making “coarse or offensive” comments to Uplift staff, students or parents.

The Texas Education Agency approved the original lease, which said the school was not required to pay rent for the first three years. The TEA is also investigating allegations of impropriety at the academy.

Sanders and Wallace co-founded Prime Prep with a high school campus in Dallas and an elementary school in Fort Worth. The suit says Wallace resigned on Nov. 21. Sanders’ name doesn’t appear in the suit, and it wasn’t clear Tuesday whether he remains affiliated with the organization.

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