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Kanye West’s Donda Academy only served students sushi every day, lawsuit claims

By Amy Powell

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    LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Two former teachers are suing the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, claiming they were wrongfully terminated from his Donda Academy private school in Simi Valley, and the lawsuit exposed several allegations.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court on behalf of Cecilia Hailey and her daughter Chekarey Byers.

The lawsuit claims the two teachers were fired in March in retaliation for reporting code violations. It also alleges the mother and daughter were discriminated against based on their race and “illegally had wages withheld or were repeatedly improperly paid.”

“Things were just chaotic,” said Hailey during an interview with Eyewitness News. “There was no order, they didn’t have some curriculum.”

Hailey said she began teaching at Donda Academy in November 2022. Her daughter joined the staff two months later in January 2023.

Hailey told ABC7 she found several things about the way the private school was being operated disturbing, including the lack of a school nurse. According to the lawsuit, student medications were stored in a closet with other expired medications “just scattered around unsecured.”

“We didn’t have any access to the nursing hotline,” said Hailey. “There would be medicines in the kitchen, there would be medicines in the classroom, there would be medicine near computers … there was no order to that.”

The lawsuit states, “No action was taken to remedy plaintiffs’ complaints regarding sanitation, health, safety or education standard pursuant to local and state law, which plaintiffs made throughout the entirety of their employment.”

“Cecilia’s daughter, my other client, Chekarey, says that she didn’t know that one of her students had allergies and there was an EpiPen available for them until she just happened to come upon it,” said attorney Ron Zambrano, who’s representing both teachers.

Then, according to Hailey, there was an unusual lunch menu at the school.

“My other serious complaint was that children were being given sushi every day,” she said. “That was it. From January 17th to March 3rd, the kids had sushi for lunch.”

Hailey said students were given fruit as a morning snack, but those who did not want sushi or did not bring lunch to school allegedly had nothing to eat. She claims she and her daughter were fired without warning in March.

“Our clients were fired for bringing up very serious deficiencies from a regulatory standpoint as far as how the school was being run,” said Zambrano.

Other complaints listed in the lawsuit include the alleged lack of disciplinary procedures, which the lawsuit claims led to “assaults and bullying.”

The hip-hop mogul also had other “unusual rules,” according to the complaint. The lawsuit claims West did not allow crossword puzzles or artwork to be hung on walls, wouldn’t allow students on the second floor because “he was reportedly afraid of stairs,” banned the use of forks and utensils, banned the wearing of jewelry, and “banished chairs in place of foam floor cushions.”

The lawsuit is seeking in excess of $1 million in damages for lost wages and emotional distress.

West has not publicly commented on the lawsuit.

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