Charlotte-area school claims bankruptcy after student athlete files class-action suit

Jireh Preparatory Academy in Matthews and its athletic program, Jireh Prep Athletics, Inc,. have filed for bankruptcy protection, just months after a class-action suit alleged it did not follow through on promises made to help students win recruitment by NCAA schools.

Documents for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy were filed Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court Western District of North Carolina.

The filing says the school, a nonprofit, owes about 50 creditors nearly $88,000, but has assets of less than $65,000. The academy has no money in any of its bank accounts, according to the documents.

Academy owners Jeffrey and Kindra Rabon could not be reached for comment.

There was no indication given on the school’s website or Facebook page that it was in financial trouble.

The Charlotte Observer profiled the school’s football coach in 2007, and reported that Jireh Prep’s mission was to provide an education and discipline primarily for students who struggled at other schools. A Facebook page for the school says it helps young men “reach the next level in athletics and academics.” Students take NCAA approved core classes, the site says.

“If you’ve had trouble learning and taking tests in the classroom, don’t lose hope,” says the school’s website. “At Jireh Preparatory Academy, our teachers will work with you to identify your weaknesses and help you improve them. We can help you do your best in both fields.”

Court documents suggest the school saw a steep drop in students this year, following the filing of a class-action lawsuit in November by a student from Cumberland County. In 2015 and 2016, the school claims to have received about $750,000 annually in tuition payments. So far this year, payments fell to $6,390, court documents state.

Former student Evan Rhodes of Cumberland County filed the class-action complaint in Mecklenburg County Superior Court , alleging the school failed to deliver on its promises to students, who had to pay between $13,000 and $14,000 a semester.

The suit alleges the Rabons solicit students from across the country, promising to provide assistance in obtaining admission to NCAA-accredited colleges.

“Jireh Prep fails to deliver on these promises, typically leaving over 60 disappointed teenage students each academic semester,” the lawsuit claimed. “Jireh Prep makes these false promises to prey upon teenagers and their parents, who often know little about NCAA’s complex academic standards, and little about the requirements to received NCAA Division 1 or Division II scholarships.”

The school filed a motion to have the lawsuit dismissed, but it continues to move forward, said Matthew Villmer, an attorney for Evan Rhodes.