Kanye West and Donda Academy Sued for Allegedly Violating Education, Health and Safety Codes

Kanye West
Brad Barket/Getty Images for Fast Company

The rapper and his school allegedly violated education, health and safety codes.

Kanye West and his Donda Academy are being sued. Two former teachers at the 45-year-old rapper's private, Christian school are suing him, his school and three of its directors for code violations, according to court docs obtained by ET.

ET has reached out to Donda Academy for comment. West was unable to be reached for comment.

The plaintiffs, Cecilia Hailey and her daughter, Chekarey Byers, claim that they were fired as teachers in March 2023 in retaliation for reporting code violations. The women, who say in the suit that they were the only Black female teachers at the school, additionally allege that they were discriminated against based on their race and that they illegally had wages withheld or were repeatedly improperly paid.

"Kanye West is clearly as bad at running a school as he is at managing his own personal and professional life, enabling an unsafe and illegal school environment for students that also discriminated against the plaintiffs based on their race," the women's attorney, Ron Zambrano, said in a press release. "These egregious violations at Donda Academy are just another example of West’s unusual behavior, and our clients just won't stand for it, no matter his celebrity status. Kanye needs to realize his genius is in creating music, not in school administration."

In the docs, the women claim that Donda Academy was not following state regulations for students in need of educational services, additional testing or individualized learning plans. They additionally alleged that the school does not have a proper disciplinary system and that students were subject to "severe bullying."

Per the women, Donda Academy "was not operating as a proper school, as it did not have any janitorial services, it did not have a school nurse on staff or medical access, it was not following nutrition guidelines, and it did not have any security precautions." On the last point, the women claim that students were allowed to be picked up from the school campus by strangers, as there were no policies in place otherwise.

Additionally, Hailey and Byers allege that the only lunch available for students was sushi, on which West spent $10,000 per week. Students were not allowed to bring any outside food except water, the women claim.

Hailey and Byers also claim that West himself had a specific set of rules for the school: crossword puzzles and coloring sheets were not allowed, classes could not take place on the second floor because West "was reportedly afraid of stairs," there was a ban on forks and utensils, all cups and bowls had to be gray, color in classrooms and art on the walls was not allowed, staff and students were prohibited from wearing jewelry because West "reportedly did not like jewelry," staff and students were required to wear all black from designated brands, the school was physically locked from the outside during the day and students were not allowed to go outside, teachers were only permitted to clean with acid water and microfiber cloths because West "did not believe in cleaning products containing chemicals," and chairs and tables were not provided.

Additionally, Hailey and Byers claim that, throughout their employment, their paychecks "were untimely or inaccurate."

When Hailey and Byers brought their concerns to the school's principal, they claim "no action was taken" and alleged that the principal called them "aggressive." Hailey additionally alleges that she "was threatened not to reach out" to West about her concerns.

"I'm just tired of the rhetoric being that Black women who are competent are seen as aggressive," Hailey said in a press release. 

Then, in March 2023, Hailey and Byers allege that they "were met in the parking lot of the school where they were notified they were being terminated from their employment effective immediately" and were not given a reason why.

As such, Hailey and Byers believe "that they were terminated in retaliation for their complaints about Defendants' unlawful and unsafe educational practices."

"We're standing up because it’s the right thing to do," Hailey said. "This is not about trying to defame a celebrity. This is about the right thing to do for these children."

"I'm extremely sad about all of this. It was such a huge honor and privilege to work at Donda Academy for Kanye West. I'm a huge Kanye fan. His first album was the first I ever purchased," Byers added. "I still enjoy his music, and I'll never deny his talent, but while his vision for the school sounds great on paper, it's just pure chaos and mutiny. It's like a mental hospital being run by the patients."