‘Reserved for Members Only’: A Tennessee Teacher Confiscated a Second Grader’s Alpha Kappa Alpha T-Shirt She Was Wearing. Now the School Is Apologizing.

A Nashville, Tennessee, teacher told a second grader wearing sorority paraphernalia to change, and now the principal is apologizing to the child’s family.

This latest situation comes after a substitute teacher was criticized on social media for wearing AKA paraphernalia despite warnings from students not to do so. 

The T-shirt was worn by 7-year-old Peyton Tiger, a McGavock Elementary School student, and had “AKA 1908” on it, WTVF reported. The shirt had pink and green rhinestones — the colors worn by Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. members.

ennessee School Apologizes to Family of Student Who Was Instructed By Teacher to Change Shirt Due to Wearing Alpha Kappa Alpha Paraphernali
A Tennessee teacher instructed a second grader to change AKA T-Shirt. (Photos: Pinterest)

The organization, the first Black women sorority, was founded in 1908 at Howard University, one of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, located in Washington, D.C.

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The student’s mother, Chloe Smith, said one of her friends passed the shirt down to Peyton. Her daughter “liked” the shirt because the colors “matched her pants,” Smith told the news station. The outlet noted that both Smith and Peyton are white. 

The teacher emailed Smith, explained why she took the shirt and gave Peyton a replacement. 

“Today, I noticed Peyton wearing an AKA shirt. I am a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. (AKA), which is a service organization for college-trained and educated women,” the teacher said, per WTVF-TV. “AKA branded items are trademarked and reserved for members only. Thus, I had to give her a new shirt and take the AKA shirt. The new shirt she received is clean, and there is no need to give it back.”

The school district issued a statement, saying that the incident was investigated by the principal, who ultimately took the shirt, returned it to the student’s family, and issued an apology, per the report. 

“While the shirt was not in accordance with the school’s dress code due to having writing, the appropriate course of action would have been to refer the matter to the school administration and not take the shirt from the student,” the statement added. “There is no policy or dress code specific to sorority branded clothing.”

People online had mixed reactions to the teacher’s decision, and one said she should have handled it differently. 

“However, I can only be frustrated with my fellow D9 members in this situation and those similar. We have an extremely strict protocol of destroying paraphernalia if it is no longer of use,” the commenter added. “There is no ‘hand-me-down’ unless the receiver is a fellow member. So, the little girl or her mom are not to blame; it’s the member of the org who disposed of it carelessly.”

Another person added: “A call to the parents would have been necessary before the t-shirt switch but to allow that child to wear that shirt was disrespectful af.”

Click here for updates on this story.

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