The Strict And Bizarre Rules Students At Kanye West's Donda Academy Allegedly Followed

Kanye "Ye" West opened his private school, the Donda Academy, in 2022, but the daily ins and outs of the school are shrouded in secrecy. The school's website offers sparse details. It caters to students from pre-kindergarten to twelfth grade, and there is a brief description of the daily curriculum. "Each day, Donda students learn fundamentals, grow in their faith, and experience two enrichment classes," the website reads. 

The air of secrecy surrounding Donda Academy — which was named after West's late mother — is deliberate. Reportedly, families of the students enrolled at the school were required to sign NDAs. "The process of Donda school is for the parishioners, for the attendees," Malik Yusef, a music producer and collaborator of the "Flashing Lights" rapper, told Rolling Stone in September 2022. "I don't think Kanye needs to tell the world what he's doing, so that he can be under more scrutiny." Donda Academy only had around 100 students when it opened. Many of them were children of those either close to West, or in the entertainment industry, such as Keyshia Cole, whose son was enrolled.

A few insights into the inner workings of the school were eventually revealed. According to an insider, the drink menu consisted of "elevated high-concept coffee, tea, and fruit-focused beverages," per Rolling Stone. More info emerged in April after two former teachers filed a lawsuit against West. The suit uncovered a set of peculiar regulations at Donda Academy, one of which dictated the usage of floor cushions instead of chairs.

The odd lunchtime rules at Donda Academy

Former Donda Academy teachers Cecilia Hailey and her daughter Chekarey Byers gave an insider's perspective on the school when they filed a joint wrongful termination lawsuit in April. The teachers alleged they were fired without warning after voicing complaints about the conditions of the school founded by Kanye "Ye" West. "Things were just chaotic," Hailey told ABC7. An issue that specifically stood out to her was the food options. "My other serious complaint was that children were being given sushi every day," Hailey added. Apparently, West had even "banned the use of forks and utensils." One of the more bewildering rules revealed by the teachers was that students were not allowed to use the second floor of the school because West "was reportedly afraid of stairs." It was also alleged that the "All of the Lights" artist disallowed artwork created by students to be hung at the school.

The eating situation was made more complex by another rule. "Students were not allowed to bring any outside food or anything other than water," lawyers for Hailey and Byers wrote in their complaint, per the Los Angeles Times. Donda Academy not only had no chairs, but no tables, so students were forced to eat while sitting on the floor. Hailey also found serious faults in the curriculum. "They didn't want the kids to know really about African American history or Asian American history," she told the Times. 

Hailey and Byers were not the only teachers who filed complaints.

Donda Academy briefly closed

In June, a third former teacher of Kanye "Ye" West's Donda Academy, Timanii Meeks, joined the lawsuit Cecilia Hailey and Chekarey Byers filed against the school. "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," the trio's lawyer, Ron Zambrano said in a statement obtained by NBC News. The suit claims that classrooms were devoid of not only textbooks but "any sort of educational items." Besides the lawsuit, the school hit tumultuous times not long after opening.

Donda Academy abruptly closed in October 2022 as West became embroiled in controversy. An email was sent to the student body letting them know that the school would be closed until the following September. Although hours later, the school announced they were staying open. "With the help of our parents and community, we are back and returning with a vengeance!" a follow-up email read, per TMZ.

The school had relocated from Simi Valley to San Fernando Valley, as students and staff were seen meeting in a different building in November 2022, according to Insider. One parent of a student defended Donda Academy as being unfairly maligned by the media. "Everything you read, it's not what they say," an anonymous father of a student told Insider at the time. "I love it!" his daughter added.