Local Company Files Bankruptcy Amid School-District Lawsuit

A crowd of people wearing RJ Construction shirts protest outside Arlington Independent School District's administrative building Oct. 14, 2021. | Image by KERA

A local construction company filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy last Tuesday after allegedly being denied payment for services by the Arlington Independent School District.

Now, dozens of impacted customers who deposited thousands of dollars with RJ Construction are watching with concern as their projects sit incomplete and unfinished.

Some expressed frustration with the Arlington-based company’s lack of communication over its recent bankruptcy filing.

Travis Hyden said his mother turned to RJ Construction to rebuild her home after a devastating house fire. He said RJ Construction received a $115,000 upfront payment earlier this year, but the company never started the project.

“She lost her house once in a fire, and she lost it again to RJ Construction,” said Hyden. “He took innocent people’s money and shut the doors, and now he’s trying to hide behind Chapter 7 bankruptcy.”

Robert Jordan is one of the owners and the namesake of RJ Construction. Jordan told WFAA he filed a lawsuit against Arlington ISD to force the district to pay for his services.

RJ Construction’s attorney, Michael Hammond, confirmed the bankruptcy filing and said the initial lawsuit was the “domino” that led to Jordan’s current situation. Hammond said he expects to eventually release more information about what will become of the commitments the company had previously made.

The uncertainty stems from repairs made by RJ Construction to Sam Houston High School in Arlington ISD, following Winter Storm Uri in February 2021. In a lawsuit filed earlier this year, the company claimed that Arlington ISD owes it roughly $1 million for the repairs.

Jordan and his team spent 11 days working an around-the-clock emergency schedule to dry the 450,000-square-foot high school, he told WFAA.

Arlington ISD disputed the amount it was charged and said it needed more documentation to confirm the value of services performed. Attorneys for the district claimed that a written agreement about the cost was never officially brokered.

For their part, Jordan and his attorney claimed that the district only requested an invoice for the work done, which his business provided.

“The district’s alleged need of additional paperwork is nothing but a bad faith excuse to avoid paying what it owes is a bad faith excuse to avoid paying what it owes,” said Hammond. “The ‘we need additional documentation’ narrative is a false flag to try and cover the district’s ultimate goal — to negotiate a settlement for pennies on the dollar of what was agreed to.”

Jordan’s attorney went on to say that at no point during the time services were being rendered by RJ Construction was there any claim or complaint that it had failed to provide adequate paperwork.

“To the contrary,” Hammond added, “the AISD was primarily concerned with getting students back into Sam Houston High School.”

Arlington ISD has since produced a factsheet claiming Jordan billed the district for drying out the entire school when the flooding impacted only half the campus.

According to Jordan, Arlington ISD supplied him with a $179,000 check he chose not to cash. He claimed it was insufficient.

Court-ordered mediation between the two parties has thus far proven unsuccessful.

Arlington ISD boasts an impressively high graduation rate for Texas. A four-year longitudinal study on the class of 2020 indicated that 90.5% of district students graduated high school on time, slightly above the statewide rate for the class of 2020 — which sat at 90.3% — and dwarfing Dallas ISD’s unimpressive 82.8% rate.   

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