Parents Accuse Diddy's Charter School of Being Violent and Dysfunctional Place for Kids

A recent report from 'The Cut' reveals numerous issues with the East Harlem charter school Capital Prep.

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Students and families affiliated with Capital Prep, co-founded by Diddy, claim the entertainment mogul’s charter school did a disservice to children who attended.

Diddy co-launched the East Harlem school with Dr. Steve Perry in 2016, and in 2018 pledged $1 million for its expansion into the Bronx. However, last November Capital Prep cut ties with him amid his ongoing sexual assault lawsuits. 

Now adding to the mounting controversy around the Bad Boy Records founder, a new report from The Cut reveals many issues with Capital Prep, including the accusation that Diddy had no involvement with the school beyond photo ops, guest appearances, and the school's grand opening in 2016.

Fourteen sources told The Cut about alleged frequent violence at Capital Prep, along with "unstable" leadership, and frequent teacher resignation. These issues were most apparent at the height of the pandemic during both virtual learning and when students, including those who were unhoused, returned for in-person classes in 2021. According to The Cut, teachers began to not show up for virtual classes, and by the end of 2020, 80 percent of teachers had left Capital Prep altogether.

When students did return to school after quarantine, some were enrolled in courses they had previously taken, or were "sitting in the cafeteria receiving no instruction for hours.” Dysfunction among teachers reflected on the student body, especially upperclassmen who were unable to transfer their credits or enroll in college due to ineligible transcripts.

“Darnell’s transcripts had classes he’d never taken, passing classes that he never took, failing classes that he was never in,” one parent, Shirley Payne, said about inaccuracies found on her son’s transcripts.

“I thought if Diddy is funding and attaching his name to something, it would be run very tightly, that he was going to give our kids what he didn’t have at that age,” parent Shakemia Harris said. Harris’ daughter Madison was enrolled at Capital Prep as an 11-year-old in 2017.

In addition to the many academic issues, violence during the school day was reportedly ongoing. Fights were rampant when the school nearly doubled in size, expanding to include a tenth grade, and again when Capital Prep relocated to 129th and Madison. Not only was the area more violent than its previous East 104th Street address, but Capital Prep began locking out students who were late, ultimately causing families to protest the disorderly conditions. In addition it violence between students, cops were called on students for things like uniform violations.

“Like other schools, we wrestled with deep community safety concerns, exacerbated by increased violence in both the local community and New York City,” the school said.

Allegedly absent from these issues was Diddy, although parents tried to contact him and his team.

“I was emailing the teachers. I was emailing leadership. I was emailing everyone. No one is responding to me,” said Payne.

Due to Capital Prep's alleged messy recordkeeping, some students were unequipped with the tools needed to acquire a higher education. Capital Prep claimed that 100 percent of students were accepted into four-year colleges; however, at least one student failed out of his first college semester, while another was accepted into three colleges but didn't attend because of depression exacerbated by the school.

Despite the controversy, 500 students from grades six through 12 still currently attend Capital Prep.

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