- Late last month, Ye’s school, Donda Academy, abruptly announced it would close amid controversy.
- Insider found an alternate location the school tried to keep secret — and it was bustling Tuesday.
- Kids inside were wearing black Donda uniforms, and Ye himself was in the building.
Days after the principal of Ye’s private Christian school, Donda Academy, announced its closure, Insider spotted what appeared to be students and staff wearing the school’s signature black uniform at the academy’s secret location, where Ye was also seen coming and going on Tuesday.
Until recently, it has largely been understood that the campus was located in a rural part of Simi Valley, California, which is just outside Los Angeles County. But a mandatory affidavit filed with the state Department of Education in October shows the address was changed to one in San Fernando Valley, just north of the heart of Los Angeles, about 20 miles from the original campus.
The location of the building is indistinct and quiet, belying any indication of celebrity, status, or the scandal that has plagued the music mogul in recent weeks.
Insider is withholding the name of the cosmetic brand that neighbors the school and has blurred the image to maintain students’ privacy.
Email records obtained by Insider show that Tamar Andrews, a former administrator at Donda Academy, had asked an official from the state Department of Education to remove the school’s new address from the public directory in September 2022, noting that public interest in the rapper meant that “every news outlet in the world would love to get a picture or video of our campus, our students, our teachers, and especially our founder.”
If the information were public, “the paparazzi will stake out our building and could pose a serious threat to the safety of our children and staff,” Andrews wrote.
But on Tuesday, all seemed calm at the address registered for Donda Academy, the “College Dropout” rapper’s academic venture, which is named after his late mother, Donda West.
An Insider reporter saw around 20 to 30 children and adults congregated inside the building, wearing the all-black uniform emblazoned with a white dove — the school’s mascot — on the back of their shirts. Records from October show 82 students enrolled at the school.
By late afternoon, parents in luxury cars picked up their children discreetly from a side entrance while other kids were shuttled off in a Mercedes-Benz sprinter bus. The windows and main entrance were mirrored and blocked by gym mats, partially obscuring the view.
A parent driving an SUV, who briefly spoke with Insider under the condition of anonymity, said Donda Academy was indeed operational and functioned like a “typical school.” He suggested that media reports about Donda were misleading.
“Everything you read, it’s not what they say,” he said.
“I love it!” his daughter yelled out from the passenger side of the car.
Ye, driven by a man in a black Maserati, also pulled up to the site at around 2:30 p.m. local time and spent about two hours inside the building before leaving in another car. It’s unclear what he was doing there, and security guards indicated he would not be available for questions.
Donda Academy did not respond to a request for comment.
But four employees from various businesses in the complex where Donda Academy was located said they believed the school was housed there, though they knew little beyond that and at times provided details that contradicted each other.
Shrouded in mystery
Since its inception, Donda Academy has been shrouded in mystery — from the school’s curriculum to Ye’s level of involvement with the private academy.
According to Rolling Stone, parents are required to sign a nondisclosure agreement, barring them from revealing any details about the unaccredited school, which costs $15,000 per year.
The academy was initially registered with the state as a private school with a Simi Valley address in October 2021 and had 21 students enrolled for the year, according to a California Department of Education affidavit obtained by Insider.
Donda Academy’s website reveals a glimpse of what the curriculum offers: daily worship sessions, followed by the CORE classes, and extracurricular activities such as choir and parkour. But it’s unclear if it reflects the most updated information.
In the past month, Ye, formerly known as Kanye West, came under fire after he donned a “White Lives Matter” T-shirt, incorrectly insisted George Floyd died of a drug overdose, and made repeated antisemitic comments. He has since apologized for what he said about Floyd’s death but doubled down on his antisemitic rhetoric.
Backlash, including companies like Adidas, Balenciaga, and Gap bowing out of their corporate partnerships with Ye, followed his recent comments.
Andrews, who also teaches at two Jewish institutions, resigned from the school on October 11.
“The only statement I wish to make is that it was my intention to stand up, not to stand out,” Andrews told Insider in an email.
On Thursday, Donda Academy principal Jason Angell suddenly announced that the school would close for the academic year.
“First, we would like to express our gratitude for the community of families and scholars that Donda Academy brought together,” Angell wrote in an email to parents sent on October 27. “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.”
Hours later, a report from TMZ stated that the school was reversing its decision.
Ye’s troubles with the school did not seem to end there, however. On Sunday, he posted on Instagram a graphic photo of Emmett Till with a caption that said Donda Academy needed a location that’s “properly zoned for a school.”
“I got about 60 children that have no place to be as they look to transfer,” he wrote.