Kanye West “is the hierarchy,” according to a friend who reportedly helped the rapper and designer found his mysterious private school.
“We are taught that black men are incapable of being heads of [institutions] even though we have seen our white counterparts fail over and over again,” Malik Yusef, a longtime friend of West’s and a self-professed “administrator, administering information to young, growing minds” of the Donda Academy, told The Post. “Kanye may fail. So what? Is he capable of educating his children? Yes.”
The school, a pre-K through 12th grade Christian academy in Simi Valley, Calif., opened its doors in 2021 (initially going from kindergarten through 8th grade) and named for the rapper’s mother, Donda West, who died in 2007 after cosmetic procedures and who was chair of Chicago State University’s English department.
West himself has proclaimed that the school’s teachers could “actually turn your kids into, like, geniuses.” But so far he has kept a tight lid on Donda’s curriculum and the people who teach it.
“Most [schools] teach reading and math. But those things never made the world better. I’m not saying we don’t teach arithmetic but that does not have bearing on how our world is structured,” Yusef added. “People have done unpleasant things to the world with their calculations. I don’t think they focus on [math] alone. I don’t think that makes for a good school.”
Poet and rapper Yusef claims to have been there from the start and explained to The Post that Donda is not spur of the moment.
“We’ve been putting together the school forever,” Yusef told The Post. “It started years ago, before the passing of Mom [Donda West]. It was [originally] not going to be called Donda. But we came up with the Donda-izing — it went through the Kanye vortex.”
As for the perceived secrecy around the school, Yusef explained, “There is a level of exclusivity. People need to get out of the hype-beast blender where [school officials] have to divulge information. There are no secrets here. It feels mysterious because people have no egress.”
According to Rolling Stone, families of students sign nondisclosure agreements that a school consultant described to the publication as an “informal agreement.”
“Most people want to know what’s going on for the sake of knowing,” said Yusef. “But there are some things that are private. Like Donda. Donda is private.”
Here’s what is known: The student-to-teacher ratio is impressive (according to the school’s website: 10:1). Annual tuition runs $15,000. There is an elite basketball team, the Donda Doves — rostered with elite players recruited from high schools around the US and outfitted in Balenciaga uniforms and Yeezys, that finished last year with 11 wins and 9 losses.
There are also visual arts, film and Parkour classes, as well as a gospel choir that takes part in West’s Sunday Service performances.
Principal and executive director Brianne Campbell’s previous jobs, according to her LinkedIn profile, include choir director, music teacher and signing services coordinator at a title company. According to Rolling Stone, she does not have experience as a school principal.
Cambell did not reply to requests for comment.
“I don’t know who the principal was on Monday morning. Without talking to Ye, I don’t know who the principal is now,” Yusef said. “Ye could have changed the principal … One contributor to the curriculum is Malik Yusef. I have no ability to share any other names. I don’t want to go on the record speaking falsehoods.”
So who is in charge of running the private academy, which has not yet been accredited by the state of California?
“Kanye is the proprietor,” said Yusef. “The decisions made at Donda are made by Kanye.”
West’s own children with ex-wife Kim Kardashian — daughters North, 9, and Chicago, 4, and sons Saint, 6, and Psalm, 3 — do not attend the school, however, much to his dismay.
School days include “full school worship; core classes of language arts, math and science; lunch & recess” and the curriculum was designed to “promote ideation, prototyping, and real-world implementation” and help students “grow in their faith and community through daily all-school worship and celebration at Sunday Service,” according to the Donda web site.
“I don’t know what time the school starts; I can’t speak on chronology,” said Yusef. “I think they are learning in an environment designed for learning. Maybe somebody talks about fishing. Fishing is important because we eat fish. Why can’t that be part of the curriculum? How many times do you need to understand George Washington in your life? You don’t need to say he is a great man.”
While Yusef does not send his own children to Donda – he resides in Chicago, but he said he would if he could – he maintained to The Post that it provides an ideal environment overseen by Kanye West.
“There is a hierarchy. Ye is the hierarchy,” said Yusef. “What he says goes. I trust him. We trust his information and his vision. For almost 20 years I’ve trusted this man to be the leader… He has not failed me. I trust him to work with youth. I trust him to be the good shepherd. Whatever the curriculum is, I know that the children come out healthy.”