UPDATED: 6:30 p.m. ET, Jan. 8, 2023
The site where rapper and producer Ye had plans to build his Christian school Donda Academy is reportedly deteriorating, according to some publications. In March 2023, the Grammy Award winner purchased the $1.5 million plot that was once home to Cornerstone Christian Church in Northridge, Los Angeles. The Chicago native reportedly had plans to move Donda Academy into the ranch style property, but community members petitioned against the hip-hop star’s proposal.
Kanye West’s $1.5M church property deteriorating after failed DONDA Academy plans
— HipHopDX (@HipHopDX) December 20, 2023
Now, it’s unclear if Ye is moving forward with his vision for the school. In photos obtained by the Sun Dec. 19, the rapper’s property appeared to be crumbling and showed no signs of construction. The windows of the distressed building were boarded up with large planks of wood and debris was scattered outside of the former Church, according to the photos. “In one photograph, a blue trash bin was full to the rim with garbage situated near the gravel driveway,” the outlet noted.
Neighbors who live nearby the seemingly abandoned building have also complained about the property’s lack of upkeep.
“I had no idea Kanye bought it but … it’s not a good look for the neighborhood, he needs to clean it up, you don’t want a bum breaking in and living there,” one community member allegedly told the Sun.
“I see someone come and check the property every few weeks to make sure it’s OK, but they haven’t done anything to it, it’s been empty for months,” another neighbor claimed.
Speculation about the status of Ye’s troubled Donda Academy came just one week before the rapper apologized to the Jewish community for his long history of antisemitism.
“I sincerely apologize to the Jewish community for any unintended outburst caused by my words or actions,” Ye penned in Hebrew in a since-deleted Instagram post. “It was not my intention to offend or demean, and I deeply regret any pain I may have caused.”
Kanye West just posted an apology to the Jewish Community in Hebrew. It says;
“I sincerely apologize to the Jewish community for any “unintended outburst” caused by my words or actions. It was not my intention to hurt or demean, and I deeply regret any pain I may have caused. I… pic.twitter.com/bYWhLAXyBs
— FearBuck (@FearedBuck) December 26, 2023
The statement came just two weeks after the rapper was filmed making antisemitic remarks during a promo event for his upcoming album Vultures in Las Vegas.
Ye’s Donda Academy came under fire in June after a third lawsuit from a former teacher surfaced, alleging the school was “plagued by problems.”
According to NBC News, Timanii Meeks is suing Donda Academy, claiming unsafe work conditions as well as being illegally terminated after parents complained there were no books in her classroom.
In the complaint, Meeks says she started as a substitute teacher at Donda Academy last August but had planned on a full-time position with the school. After finding exposed electrical wiring, loose baseboards and other safety hazards, she alerted school officials. She also described claims of bullying and assaults on campus, but was told that the school was a “work in progress.”
The lawsuit also said that parents who sat in on Meeks’ class complained there were no textbooks “or any sort of educational items that would typically be found in a classroom.” Students were eventually given workbooks, online worksheets and other reading material, but Meeks claims she was disciplined following the complaints.
Meeks, who was placed at Donda Acamdey through a staffing agency, said the school terminated her in October when she was contracted through the rest of the school year. The lawsuit claims no reason was given for Meeks’ termination.
“Clearly, Ye has a big problem on his hands with this school, and the addition of Ms. Meeks to the complaint only serves to reinforce the nightmarish conditions for staff and students at Donda Academy,” her lawyer Ron Zambrano told NBC.
Zambrano, who also represents Cecilia Hailey and Chekarey Byers, the two other former teachers named in the amended complaint, says all his clients were treated unfairly.
“Ms. Meeks was fired months before Cecilia Hailey and Chekarey Byers were terminated but all three clearly witnessed the same illegal and disturbing code violations and conduct at the school, and all three were given the same retaliatory and unlawful treatment merely for trying to stand up for the students’ rights to a meaningful education,” said Zambrano.
The suit, which was filed by Cecilia Hailey and Chekarey Byers at the Los Angeles County Superior Court portrays the school peculiarly. According to the plaintiffs, who are mother and daughter, Ye didn’t allow chairs, crossword puzzles or coloring sheets in his private Christian school and only fed the students sushi for lunch. The teachers also claimed that Donda Academy didn’t have a protocol for students with medical needs. Teachers often didn’t know students had medical conditions and the medicine was spread throughout the school, sometimes found in the janitor’s closet or on top of microwaves.
Hailey joined the school in November of last year as a substitute but was made a full-time second and third-grade teacher shortly thereafter, she said. Byers, meanwhile, was hired as a fifth-grade teacher around Jan. 25 of this year, according to the suit. They claim they were the only Black women teachers at the school.
“I just need to preface that it’s not the children’s fault that things are not the way they should be. It’s the adults’ fault and administration’s fault that things are that way,” Hailey said in an interview with NBC4.
According to NBC News, Ye and Donda Academy have yet to comment on the lawsuit
Ye’s Donda Academy continues to be a mystery to the outside world and many questions surround whether the school can recover from West’s shenanigans.
There has been much uncertainty around Ye’s top-secret school, so much so that even the LAPD database can’t handle the overload of queries about West and his academy.
According to Insider, between Jan. 1, 2022 and Nov. 4, 2022, there were 19,155 emails that mentioned “Kanye West” or “Donda Academy” in the in-and-outboxes of LAPD employees. An LAPD records analyst said there were so many emails that they exceeded the maximum number of gigabytes LAPD computers could search. Because of the sheer amount of emails, the files were also too large for the records system to search and export without narrowing the scope of the search.
As questions and concerns continue to surround Donda Academy, Ye seems like he hasn’t completely given up his dream to disrupt the education system and build a positive lasting school.
The artist formerly known as Kanye West could be on the verge of finding Donda Academy a new home.
According to TMZ, Kanye has had three face-to-face meetings with Pastor Ronald Nagin of Cornerstone Christian Church about moving Donda to the church’s massive facility in Northridge, CA. Over the past month, Ye has also expressed interest in leasing church space from Nagin for Donda Academy.
This isn’t the first move for school. Originally Ye opened Donda’s doors in Simi Valley, only to later move the school’s facilities to a space in Chatsworth.
Nagin told TMZ that Ye likes Cornerstone Christian Church because of its bigger space for classrooms. The church will also offer a sanctuary for the students.
Although the deal is not final, Nagin revealed to TMZ that Cornerstone’s lawyers are drafting up a lease for the Billionaire who’s fallen out of graces with a lot of Americans.
Will CCC be the place where Donda can find a home? That question will be left up to whether students and teachers decide to return to the school.
Donda Academy was certainly making noise in the education sector, but like so many other entities created by the mega-star, the school’s students are now trying to find their way after Ye’s antisemitic tirades.
Some of Donda’s top basketball recruits have left the school for less controversial pastures this month due to the uncertainty of the school and program.
According to ESPN, A.J. Johnson, the No. 25 recruit in the 2023 class, and Jacob Bannarbie have transferred to SoCal Academy in Northridge, CA.
J.J. Taylor, the No. 45 prospect for 2023, will play at San Ysidro High in San Diego, and Chuck Bailey Jr. will play at Hamtramck High in Michigan.
Kentucky commit and No. 8 recruit in the 2023 class, Rob Dillingham will join the Overtime Elite, which is a league that offers top recruits an alternative path to professional basketball.
It’s not just basketball players who are deciding to step away from Donda Academy. Keyshia Cole also recently took her son out of the school after some much uncertainty created by Ye’s controversial statements.
The private Christian school shut down for a few hours after Donda Academy’s principal Jason Angell sent a letter via email to parents informing them that school would be closed for the remainder of the school year effective Thursday, Oct. 27.
“First, we would like to express our gratitude for the community of families and scholars that Donda Academy brought together,” said Angell. “However, at the discretion of our Founder, Donda Academy will close for the remainder of the 2022-2023 school year effective immediately, Thursday, Oct. 27. THERE IS NO SCHOOL TOMORROW.”
— philip lewis (@Phil_Lewis_) October 27, 2022
Later in the day, TMZ reported that Donda Academy was reopening on Friday, Oct 28, just hours after announcing its closure. Another email was sent to parents and students that read, “Join us tomorrow morning in worship for the return of Donda Academy. With the help of our parents and community, we are back and returning with a vengeance! The children of Donda are going to change the world. Apologies for the late email! See you bright and early!”
Donda Academy seems to be trying to wade through the madness. The basketball team was recently dropped from its season schedule by Scholastic Play-By-Play Classics due to Ye’s racist and antisemitic remarks.
Despite signing non-disclosure forms, some players and parents are speaking out.
Diana Cooper, whose youngest son plays for the school’s team told The NY Times she hasn’t been told much about what’s going on with the future of the team or the school.
“They tell us what they want us to know,” said Cooper. ”This just started happening within the last couple months with Kanye getting in all this stuff. They’re not really keeping us informed.”
She expressed her disdain when asked what she thought about Kanye’s George Floyd comments.
“George Floyd — I didn’t like that,” Cooper said. “That wasn’t right.”
NFL player Aaron Donald and NBA player Jaylen Brown have also parted ways with Kanye’s sports agency Donda Sports, TMZ reported on Tuesday.
“I have always, and will always, continue to stand strongly against antisemitism, hate speech, misrepresentation, and oppressive rhetoric of any kind,” Brown said in a statement. He added: “In light of that, after sharing in conversations, I now recognize that there are times when my voice and my position can’t coexist in spaces that don’t correspond with my stance or my values. And for that, I am terminating my association with Donda Sports.”
Although the Donda Academy has closed, Principal Jason Angell has said the school plans to reopen next school year.
“We intend to begin afresh in September of 2023, and we are confident that our scholars will continue to advance as the creative innovators, courageous influencers, and academic leaders of the next generation,” said Angell.
Much of Donda Academy has been shrouded in mystery.
Media publications local and national have all been trying to dig up information on the celebrity-founded academy since its inception, but little information beyond what’s on the school’s website has been shared.
The daily schedule, which was posted on the school’s website, is certainly different from most public school days. According to the site, “Each day, Donda students learn fundamentals, grow in their faith, and experience two enrichment classes.”
‘The Donda In A Day’ includes, “full school worship; core classes of language arts, math, and science; lunch as well as recess. The curriculum also includes ‘enrichment courses” such as World Language, Visual Art, Film, Choir, and Parkour.
Although the curriculum seems interesting on paper, it just doesn’t give much detail.
The website also says they have a 10-1 student-teacher ratio with no more than 12 students per class. They accept students from prekindergarten through 12th grade, although the California Department of Education’s website states the academy only goes up to eighth grade.
Donda’s staff is also shrouded in a bit of mystery. On the website, it lists Brianne Campbell as the principal and executive director, Allison Tidwell as assistant principal, and Shayla Scott as athletic director, but that’s it. No mention of teachers or administrations outside of those three. Donda could have an amazing staff of highly qualified teachers, but we have no way of knowing because everything is being kept so tight lip.
According to Rolling Stone, families are even required to sign nondisclosure agreements, though a consultant to the school told the publication only parents signed and called them “informal agreements.”
Producer and longtime collaborator of West, Malik Yusef told Rolling Stone he helped shape Donda Academy and that West has had this vision for a very long time.
“I want to be emphatic that there’s never been a time that Kanye West did not want to do this,” Yusef told Rolling Stone. “I think people don’t understand the gravity of that. This man always wanted to create a school in his mama’s name … Look at what we’re doing with the choir and the fashion in school — I don’t think there’s a venture capitalist or anybody that’s had a vision this clear on what education can look like for you.”
Ye hopes to disrupt the world of education by “finding the intersection between faith and the innovation of the future.” It comes as no surprise given his recent deep dive into the world of religion with his ethereal choir and church-stirring Sunday Service sessions.
According to Yahoo News, the new prep school is located in Simi Valley, California, just 30 minutes outside of Los Angeles.
The Grammy-award-winning producer has his eyes set on building the ultimate high school basketball team to challenge the Sierra Canyon Trailblazers of Los Angeles‘ big-time preparatory day school Sierra Canyon. A heavy-hitting list of basketball stars and celebrities have attended the co-educational private school including Scottie Pippen Jr., Kendell Jenner, Willow Smith, and Brandon Boston Jr.
West, who reportedly is in charge of the recruitment process, has already secured NBA hopeful Jalen Hooks for the team. The towering 6 foot 7 tall junior from Indiana already had offers piling in from Kansas, Michigan State, and Purdue, however, Hooks told the Indianapolis Star that he didn’t bat an eye when the Chicago Native contacted him personally to join the academy.
“It’s just one of those things you can’t pass up,” Hooks explained. “It was more of a family decision, too. All of us just felt like it was a chance to reach my full potential and grow and get ready for the college level.”
Hooks is joined by North Carolina-based five-star junior, Robert Dillingham and Jahki Howard, who is a 2024 top 5 prospect out of Georgia. The team has also locked in a spot for Zion Cruz of New Jersey.
UNC recruit & class of 2023 five star PG Robert Dillingham now has a dorm room at Kanye West’s Donda Academy in California, I’m told.
In his sophomore year at Combine Academy in NC, Dillingham he averaged 21.2 pts., 4.9 asts, 4.1 rebounds & 2.1 steals per game. pic.twitter.com/pqd8cS5qOb
— Brandon “Scoop B” Robinson (@ScoopB) October 1, 2021
According to two big-time candidates, West contacted them via DM on Instagram hoping to cultivate their talents at Donda Academy. “It’s crazy that he reached out,” one player told Yahoo Sports. “But he’s building a good team with players that I want to play with and it’s out in LA in a good market so it’s something me and my family have to think about,” they added.
Back in November 2021, the all-star team kicked off their first season going toe to toe against Minnesota Prep. While Donda Academy lost 86-92 against the Saint Paul team, they showed great potential in their first game. Cruz scored a whopping 15 points while Dillingham swooped in 18. West was all smiles as he sat and watched the team go to work courtside.
— Overtime (@overtime) November 7, 2021
There might be evidence to suggest that Kanye’s new educational institution will be offering a more diverse academic program soon, but without true transparency, it’s hard to tell.
The school’s core mission is to equip kids “with an education that will last in the ever-changing world,” and so far, Ye is living up to the school’s motto, but hopefully the education students are receiving will be valuable in furthering their education.
As of now, Donda Academy is not yet accredited, but according to Rolling Stone, they have recently applied for accreditation with the Western Association of Schools and Colleges and hope to be accredited by spring 2023.