Fired Teachers at Kanye West’s Donda Academy File Suit Over Alleged Racism, Bizarre Conditions

Sushi every day while sitting on the floor, wearing all black, and artwork and color in the classroom banned by the rapper, the suit alleges

Was the Donda Academy a little school of horrors?

Two former teachers are alleging in a suit filed this week in Los Angeles County Superior Court that Kanye West’s Simi Valley Christian school, Donda Academy, was an utterly bizarre institution and that they were fired for sounding the alarm about the school’s violations of state law and over their race.

Cecilia Hailey and Chekarey Byers, the only two Black female teachers who were working at the academy, which opened in 2022, were fired in March by Moira Love, Donda’s principal. She called the two “aggressive” while around others after they spoke out about the alleged violations taking place. They educators also allege that their paychecks were erratic throughout their employment, and often fell short of the agreed-upon compensation. When fired in the parking lot when they arrived at work in March after just two months at the school, they were given no reason for their termination, Hailey and Byers claim.  

The plaintiffs’ lawyer, Ron Zambrano, tells LAMag he was “confident” West had a high amount of “day-to-day operations, at least during the first year [of the school]. It was just as crazy—people being fired at whim, not paying teachers on time, or sporadically.”

In the suit, obtained by LAMag, the plaintiffs state they believe being called “aggressive” was propagating a stereotype about Black women and the reason for such treatment around their termination was because of their race. West’s attorney, Gregory K. Nelson did not comment on the lawsuit and told the Los Angeles Times that as of Thursday. he hadn’t seen the filing.

The suit details how Hailey and Byers claim they had complained to Love that Donda Academy was in violation of various Department of Education requirements, including the fact the school, then operating in Chatsworth, was not following state regulations for students in need of educational services, extra testing or individualized learning plans. The plaintiffs also say they complained to Love that there was no disciplinary system, and as such, students were seriously bullied.

Donda Academy did not have the tools to operate as a normal school, the former teachers there allege. They claim there was no school nurse, no nutritional guidelines for the food it served its students, and zero security precautions.

And all of that was only the beginning.

The school also lacked a cleaning staff, and the reason for this stemmed from the neuroses of West, the suit states, as he “did not believe in cleaning products containing chemicals, so teachers were only allowed to clean with acid water and microfiber cloths,” according to the lawsuit, which adds that there were also no trash cans to throw away said microfiber clothes.

During the time the plaintiffs’ worked at the academy, they allege, lunch consisted of sushi, and only sushi—every day. Students had to eat it on the floor, as West—not a fan of traditional furniture—had done away with the tables. Don’t bother packing a lunch, kids—students couldn’t bring in any outside food—only water. 

“It was widely known,” the lawsuit reads, “That Defendant [Kanye West] spends $10,000 a week on sushi [for the children].”

The suit also alleges that medical equipment was strewn to and fro, with some medication kept in a janitor’s closet, and one student’s EpiPen [a life-saving allergy medication] kept casually on top of the microwave.

No after-school pick-up plan was in place for the children, the suit alleges, and it seemed that just about anyone could fetch them; “parents, children from other schools, and even random strangers could come and go at will without ever having to sign in or sign out,” it states. Meanwhile, West imposed his harsh school of art on the pupils, which didn’t allow much room for creativity. There were no crossword puzzles or coloring sheets, and West banned color and artwork was hung on the walls, the suit states.

Instruction could not happen on the school’s second floor because West was afraid of stairs, the suit alleges, and the rapper-mogul also banned utensils—but allowed cups and bowls, under the stipulation they are the color gray; no one, teachers or children, was allowed to wear jewelry, “because West did not like jewelry,” according to the suit. West did like the color black, however: “Everyone was required to wear all black from head to toe,” the suit reads, adding that West’-issued or designed apparel could be worn.

West apparently disdained chairs, so pupils either had to crouch on foam cushions or stand; as did the teachers, the plaintiffs claim.

The type of parents that kept their kids in Donda Academy, said Zambrano, were “not concerned about what happens to their kids’ education—more like, complaining about how to follow structure.”

On Oct. 27, Donda Academy, where the curriculum includes Christianity, language arts, math and science, “abruptly” closed as West was embroiled in controversy over antisemitic comments he made in an interview and on social media; it reopened hours later. 

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