- Ye’s Donda Academy was understood to be located in a rural part of Simi Valley, California.
- But an email from administrators to the Department of Education shows the school secretly moved last year.
- A source said the former site of the school is no longer maintained.
Kanye West’s Donda Academy campus was believed to be in outlying Ventura County, California, but administrators secretly moved the school last year to a Los Angeles suburb, according to emails and Department of Education documents obtained by Insider.
Initially, when the $15,000-a-year school registered with the state as a private school in October 2021, it was located in Simi Valley and had 21 students enrolled for the year, according to an affidavit obtained by the agency. When trustees filed this year’s mandatory affidavit in October, the address was changed to Chatsworth, about a 20-minute drive from the original campus.
Tamar Andrews, a former administrator at Donda Academy, emailed the Department of Education in September asking that the school’s new address be removed from a public directory. Andrews — who also teaches at two Jewish institutions — resigned in early October after West’s anti-Semitic rants.
“Our founder is Kanye West and as I’m sure you can imagine, every news outlet in the world would love to have a photo or video of our campus, our students, our teachers and especially our founder,” wrote Andrews. “However, we are concerned that since we have moved locations, that now that people know about our school that the PSA information will be public and that the paparazzi will be having fun in the building, it could pose a serious threat to the safety of our children and the staff”.
In late October a source familiar with the school told Insider that the Simi Valley 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 original property, but the school has not made any progress since October 2021 and the permits are set to expire.
Another source who worked near the school and asked to remain anonymous said they have not seen people on the school grounds for some time.
The original campus for Donda Academy is tucked away, with a ranch, riding school and garden nursery nearby.
Perched on a hill shaded by eucalyptus and Italian Cypriot trees, the building is nondescript, built in Spanish-style architecture but colored black and gray in a nod to Ye’s often monochromatic form.
On Oct. 27, when school officials announced that the academy would be closed for the rest of the academic year, the campus seemed empty. Leaves and debris still covered the road and ground. The windows were all closed.
The source familiar with the school told Insider that the school opened at the site 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 “fearful” of him. .
Donda Academy has operated in secrecy since its inception. Parents and staff are required to sign non-disclosure agreements, according to Rolling Stone, and Ye has answered very few questions about the school in the media.
Rolling Stone previously reported that the school has tuition of $15,000 a year and students wear uniforms made by Balenciaga and the rapper’s Yeezy brand.
In an interview with ABC News, Ye said he envisioned the academy to be a “gospel school” and hoped to give “kids practical tools they need in a post-iPhone world.”
According to the school’s website, students are led in daily worship sessions before starting their core language, arts, maths and science classes, followed by lunch and enrichment classes that include choir and parkour.
But the school remains unaccredited, meaning Donda Academy cannot receive public funding. It is also a barrier to students pursuing higher education, as many colleges and universities do not accept degrees from non-accredited schools.
As of Oct. 10 of this year, 82 students were enrolled, according to the 2022 private school affidavit — the only document private schools in California are required to provide to the state’s education department.
On Thursday, an email from a school official, obtained by Hollywood Unlocked, said the private school will be closed 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 has 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 be closed for the remainder of the 2022-2023 school year effective immediately, Thursday, October 27th. NO SCHOOL TOMORROW.”
Ye also appeared to confirm the closure in a now-deleted Instagram post that read “my school is closing.” There were later reports that the school may have reopened a few hours later, but these have not been confirmed.
The source who told Insider that they spoke with Ye on multiple occasions about the school said that all of their interactions with Ye, school principals and Ye’s security guards have been nothing but positive. They emphasized several times that the rapper was a “good guy.”
“He came here to do good for the kids,” the source told Insider.
“He’s still in charge … I’m a little upset that he’s not taking care of the property,” the source said, pointing to the dead foliage strewn across the school’s entrance and the road 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 the school received five building permits, including one to convert a residence on the property into an administrative building. However, the school has not made progress or requested an inspection on any work since October 2021. Barrera said he believed they had found a new building.
“I’ve heard they weren’t 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 on the property.
They recalled that the rapper’s “original intention was a music, art, farming kind of thing” before it turned more into a sports academy.
“They were the nicest people,” the source said of Ye and the school administrators.
It was then surprising when the source heard about Ye’s anti-Semitic comments, which seemed to contradict the cordial interactions they had with the world-renowned artist.
Since his statements and his “White Lives Matter” tenure, Ye has dropped several of his corporate partners, including Gap, Balenciaga, Adidas and talent agency CAA, among others.