- Ye’s Donda Academy was understood to be located in a rural part of Simi Valley, California.
- But several sources told Insider that the campus has been quiet since last year.
- One source said that the upkeep of the property isn’t being maintained.
Kanye West’s Donda Academy campus has remained quiet since last year, sources told Insider.
The academy, which comes with a $15,000-per-year tuition, was said to have been based in Simi Valley, California, a quiet conservative-leaning suburb in Ventura County since it opened around last year.
But a source familiar with the school, who has interacted with West, who now goes by Ye, told Insider that the location was abandoned after just four months around Thanksgiving 2021. Representatives for Ye and Donda Academy did not immediately respond to Insider’s request for comment.
A Ventura County official told Insider that Donda Academy received building permits to work on the property, but the school hasn’t made any progress since October 2021 and the permits are about to expire.
Another source who worked near the school and who requested anonymity said that they haven’t seen people on the school grounds for some time.
The presumed original campus for Donda Academy is tucked away in a more rural part of Simi Valley, with a ranch, horseriding school, and garden nursery located nearby.
Perched on a hill shaded by eucalyptus and Italian Cyprus trees, the building is nondescript, built with Spanish-style architecture but colored black and gray in a nod to Ye’s oft-monochromatic form.
On Thursday, when school officials claimed that the academy will be closed for the rest of the academic year, the campus appeared to be empty. Leaves and debris were still covering the driveway and grounds. The windows were all shuttered.
The first source, who has interacted with Ye, school administrators, and security guards told Insider that the school opened at the location near the end of August 2021. They asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution, adding that while they had positive interactions with Ye, they were also “afraid” of him.
Donda Academy has operated in secrecy since its inception. Parents and staff are required to sign nondisclosure agreements, per Rolling Stone, and Ye has answered very few questions about the school to the media.
Rolling Stone previously reported that the school has a $15,000-per-year tuition, and students wear uniforms made by Balenciaga and the rapper’s brand Yeezy.
In an interview with ABC News, Ye said he envisioned the academy to be a “gospel school” and hoped to give “kids practical tools that they need in a world post the iPhone being created.”
According to the school website, students are led in daily worship sessions before they start their core language arts, math, and science classes, followed by lunch and enrichment courses that includes choir and parkour.
But the school remains unaccredited, which means Donda Academy can’t receive public funding. It’s also a hurdle for students pursuing higher education since many colleges and universities don’t accept diplomas from unaccredited schools.
In addition, the school appeared to be facing existential uncertainty this week.
On Thursday, an email from a school official, which was obtained by Hollywood Unlocked, indicated that the private school would close for the remainder of the academic year. Insider has not independently seen the email.
“First, we would like to express our gratitude for the community of families and scholars that Donda Academy brought together,” the school’s principal, Jason Angell, wrote in an email sent to parents. “However, at the discretion of our Founder, Donda Academy will close for the remainder of the 2022-2023 school year effective immediately, Thursday, October 27. THERE IS NO SCHOOL TOMORROW.”
Ye also seemed to confirm the closure in a now-deleted Instagram post that said “my school is being shut down.” Reports later emerged that the school may have re-opened hours later.
The source who told Insider they spoke with Ye on several occasions about the school said that all their interactions with Ye, school administrators, and Ye’s security guards have been nothing but positive. They emphasized multiple times that the rapper was a “nice guy.”
“He came here to do good for the kids,” the source said.
The source who has had interactions with Ye said that Donda Academy hasn’t operated at the location since Thanksgiving last year.
“He’s still responsible … I am a little upset that he doesn’t take care of the property,” the source said, pointing to the dead foliage strewn across the school’s entrance and driveway next door.
Another person who works near the school said they haven’t seen “anyone there in a while.”
Ventura County Building and Safety Director Ruben Barrera told Insider that the school received five building permits, including one to turn a residence on the property into an administrative building. But the school hasn’t made progress or called for an inspection on any work since October 2021. Barrera said he believed they had found a new building.
“I have heard that they were not using it and were using an alternate location,” he said.
The source who interacted with Ye said they were “very excited” at the time to have the school at the property.
They recalled that the rapper’s “original intention was a music, arts, farming type of thing” before it switched to focus more on a sports academy.
“They were the nicest people,” the source said of Ye and school administrators.
It came as a surprise then when the source heard about Ye’s antisemitic remarks, which seemed to conflict with the cordial interactions they had with the world-famous artist.
Since his statements and his “White Lives Matter” stint, Ye has been dropped by several of his corporate partners including Gap, Balenciaga, Adidas, and talent agency CAA, among others.