What is going on at Donda Academy?



Kanye West overlooking sushi as that is the only food he feeds his students allegedly. Photography by: Chloe Nguyen

As normal, Kanye West is making headlines for his unique actions. Recently, West founded a K-12 unaccredited Christian private school in memory of his mother, Donda, naming it Donda Academy.

The school was originally located in Simi Valley but then moved to Chatsworth, California. Two former teachers of the school, Cecilia Hailey and Chekarey Byers, were recently fired in March for raising concerns about the environment of the school and the odd techniques taught to the children. As they arrived at the school on March 3rd, they were fired in the parking lot with no reason for their termination.

The two women have filed a lawsuit for wrongful termination, discrimination, withheld payment, and retaliation. After expressing their concerns three separate times to the principal of Donda Academy, Moira Love, the women were told they were “aggressive” with no further elaboration. Making this issue more complex, Hailey and Byers were the only two black women who worked at the school, raising concerns over racial inequalities in the workplace. 

After the lawsuit was filed, some alleged unusual conditions at the facility. The most bizarre occurrence at the school is the claim that students were only being fed sushi for their one meal a day. According to the plaintiffs, students were also not allowed to bring their own outside food other than water and had to sit on the floor with no eating utensils. The two women claim West paid $10,000 every week just for the sushi, while he allegedly withheld about $2700 from each of their paychecks. Tuition is $15,000 per child, and about 82 kids attend the school. 

These strange policies are just the beginning. Along with the odd food rules, West allegedly put restrictions on clothing and teaching techniques according to the plaintiffs. According to “The Cut” the student’s uniforms consisted of only black-colored clothing custom-made by Balenciaga, and students were specifically not allowed to wear Nike or Adidas.

These were not the only things banned from the school. In the lawsuit filed, crossword puzzles, art, jewelry, and coloring books were also banned. Along with this, West allegedly had a fear of stairs and chairs; therefore, the children were not allowed to go to the second floor of the school. Another raised concern from the former teachers showed that the students were not allowed to go outside during the school day, and the doors were locked from the outside, easily creating a fire hazard, according to the lawsuit.

Another hazard brought up by the two women explained that the school allegedly had no nurses or janitors. They claimed that Mmedical supplies were scarce, and if the students did have medication, they would not be stored and put away properly. Their medications were kept in the janitor’s closet and were put alongside expired medications

Additionally, the former teachers also reported that teachers were not required to keep first aid kits in the classroom. Even worse, a student’s EpiPen was kept in an unsafe place — on top of the microwave — according to the plaintiffs.  Since the school did not have a janitor, West allegedly also banned the use of chemical-filled cleaning supplies and actual trash bins. The teachers were forced to use “acid water and microfiber cloths” to clean. 

The two teachers also expressed their concerns for the future of the children who are attending the school. Because the school is unaccredited, if the parents wish to pull their child out of the academy, it could be a troubling experience.

The ladies claimed that student work does not get graded, nor do they get report cards or transcripts. Due to this, the students can easily fall behind in the school curriculum because state regulations for learning are not being followed allegedly. 

This is not the first time Donda Academy has been in the news. After West made multiple anti-Semitic comments on social media and interviews in the fall of 2022, the school announced they were shutting down on October 27th and would not reopen for the rest of the 2022-2023 school year.

However, a couple of hours later, an email was sent out to the parents stating that the school was reopening for the school year. According to Hailey, the students were not exposed to or taught antisemitic and discriminatory views in the curriculum.

Nonetheless, some topics were barred from being discussed in the classroom. For example, the Holocaust, and Asian American and African American history were not taught in the classroom according to sources, limiting information on history. 

As of right now the school still seems to be open.