Kanye West scandal: Family shares Donda Academy experience
Broken promises and faced with uncertainty.
What was supposed to be the ultimate high school experience in Los Angeles has turned into a nightmare for dozens of parents and their children enrolled at Kanye West’s Donda Academy in Simi Valley.
Tuition reportedly cost $15,000 at the private Christian school and parents allegedly have to sign a non-disclosure agreement.
"I can only imagine what it’s like for a kid not knowing what’s going on," parent Chuck Bailey said in an exclusive interview with FOX 11.
Chuck Bailey Jr., known as "Big Chuck," is the father of Chuck Bailey III, one of the most sought-after high school basketball players in the nation.
The Baileys live in Detroit, Michigan, but at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, they decided Chuck III would attend school in Gilbert, Arizona due to the state’s less restrictive COVID policies, so he could continue following his hoop dreams as most programs across the country were suspended. Chuck III made an immediate impact at Higley High where he had a breakout season as a sophomore and gained the attention of several prestigious programs, including representatives of the future Donda Academy last September.
West was a billionaire at the time and the Bailey family believed it would be an exciting opportunity to move to LA, and also to learn the business of branding from one of the best to ever do it. They were promised NIL deals, plenty of exposure, and other opportunities that would benefit the family financially while on the path to the National Basketball Association.
Earlier this year, the combo guard was one of 11 basketball players on the team featured on the cover of Slam Magazine with West. The athletes featured in the magazine were also the first people to wear the highly anticipated Yeezy basketball shoes, which is just part of what made being an athlete at the Donda Academy so special.
Despite a few misfortunes last year, Chuck III wanted to return for the 2022-23 school year.
Chuck Bailey said when he became aware of Ye’s antisemitic remarks, he saw the writing on the wall and how the artist’s insensitive comments would impact his son and his fellow teammates.
He saw news articles about businesses severing ties with Ye and eventually, he became aware from social media posts about the various national tournaments Donda Academy’s basketball team was disqualified from as a result of the controversial remarks. In addition to the antisemitic remarks, Ye also spoke about George Floyd’s death and wore a White Lives Matter shirt during Paris Fashion Week.
"When you make comments or you do stuff, you have to think about your loved ones. These kids would be considered his loved ones," he said.
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On Oct. 26, the school abruptly closed, but then school officials told parents it would reopen the following day.
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Despite his frustrations, he wants to make it clear he does not want to bash Kanye or the program. He simply wants to advocate for the children.
"I want the best for my son’s future…not just my son, but all these children," he said. "It’s unfortunate they have to go through this."
Every athlete in the basketball program was recruited as the academy wanted the best of the best on the team.
Basketball season is now in full swing. Chuck remains enrolled at the Donda Academy online, but he is no longer a part of the basketball program.
Several other athletes have also left the program, including five-star recruit, Robert Dillingham. It was announced Thursday he signed with the Overtime Elite league.
Basketball is important, but Chuck Bailey says for him, education comes first. He wants Ye to keep his promise to the students. They have yet to receive an apology or even an explanation from the school’s founder. "Now we gotta pick up pieces," Chuck Bailey said. "It isn’t cool how they handled things."