HomeTop StoriesEx-teacher at Ye’s Donda Academy says she was fired after parents complained her class had no books
Ex-teacher at Ye’s Donda Academy says she was fired after parents complained her class had no books
June 1, 2023
A third former teacher from Ye’s private Christian school is suing the Donda Academy and the rapper formerly known as Kanye West, alleging that the building was unsafe and that she was dismissed after parents complained her classroom had no books.
The allegations from Timanii Meeks, included in an amended complaint Thursday in Los Angeles Superior Court, add to a troubled portrait of the school detailed in a lawsuit filed earlier this year by two other former teachers, Cecilia Hailey and Chekarey Byers.
Meeks, Hailey and Byers are represented by the same employment law firm and alleged their termination was retaliatory. Meeks’ allegations will be added to Hailey and Byers’ suit, which the firm provided to NBC News.
“Clearly, Ye has a big problem on his hands with this school, and the addition of Ms. Meeks to the complaint only serves to reinforce the nightmarish conditions for staff and students at Donda Academy,” their attorney, Ron Zambrano, said in a statement.
He continued: “Ms. Meeks was fired months before Cecilia Hailey and Chekarey Byers were terminated but all three clearly witnessed the same illegal and disturbing code violations and conduct at the school, and all three were given the same retaliatory and unlawful treatment merely for trying to stand up for the students’ rights to a meaningful education.”
Donda Academy, which teaches students in kindergarten through 12th grade, promotes an education based on “passion, purpose and spiritual foundations they need to thrive in tomorrow’s world,” according to its website.
According to the complaint, Meeks began working at the Southern California school last August as a long-term substitute teacher in math, with plans for a full-time position in the theater department.
When Meeks alerted administrators to exposed electrical wiring, loose baseboards and other safety hazards — as well as “significant issues” with bullying and assaults on campus — they told her they were “working on the kinks” and described the school as a “work in progress.”
In October, a few parents who sat in on Meeks’ class complained that there were no books, textbooks “or any sort of educational items that would typically be found in a classroom,” the lawsuit says.
The students were eventually given workbooks and printouts of online worksheets, the suit says, but in response to the complaints the school’s former principal reprimanded Meeks.
On Oct. 12, the staffing agency that placed Meeks at Donda said the school had instructed her to no longer teach there — even though she was supposed to continue working until at least the end of the year, the lawsuit says.
No reason was given for the termination, according to the complaint, and Meeks remains employed with the staffing agency.
Representatives for Ye did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday. Lawyers for the school and former officials named in the suit did not respond to requests for comment, nor did the school’s current principal.
In the complaint filed in April, Byers and Hailey alleged that Donda was plagued by problems: it didn’t have a proper disciplinary system, even though students were being subjected to severe bullying, nor did it have enough trash cans, a school nurse, security protocols or cleaning staff.
The only lunch available to students was sushi, according to the complaint, and wearing Adidas or Nike shoes was forbidden. Students weren’t allowed to go outside, nor were students allowed to use forks or utensils, the complaint says.
Byers and Hailey began working at the school in November, roughly a month after Meeks said she was terminated. They were fired in March over what Zambrano described in the suit as retaliation for their complaints about Donda’s “unlawful and unsafe educational practices.”
Zambrano said Byers and Hailey, who are Black, were racially discriminated against and illegally had wages withheld or were repeatedly improperly paid.
Donda Academy announced in October that it was closing amid fallout from antisemitic comments Ye made. Records from California’s Department of Education showed Wednesday that the school is active and it wasn’t clear when the school reopened.