KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A mother of a former cheerleader at a Knoxville, Tennessee high school said her daughter was unfairly kicked off this year’s team because of videos posted to social media.
“I know the video wasn’t very appropriate for the cheer team, but I wasn’t in uniform or anything,” said Te’shauria Akinleye, who said she was recently kicked off Hardin Valley Academy’s cheer squad for the dance videos she shared on her social media platforms.
“The cheer coach messaged Te’shauria and said, ‘Hey, this is not cheerleader appropriate for Hardin Valley or not appropriate for a Hardin Valley Cheerleader, delete it,'” explained Te’shauria’s mom, Toksy Akinleye. She also said she approves every video her daughter posts.
Both mother and daughter said they felt the dance videos posted after that were modified to make them more appropriate. “The first TikTok was a full body and that’s the one they asked her to delete, the subsequent ones that she posted she cropped herself out from the waist up,” explained Toksy.
After that, they felt like it was game over. “I got a phone call from the coach and the coach’s assistant and it started off with, you know, ‘Hey, we had that video that we asked Te’shauria to delete and we know she deleted it, but then since that time she’s had three subsequent videos which are sexually inappropriate or explicit,” explained Toksy Akileye of the phone call she had Thursday, August 12, 2021, just a few days after the first, full-body video was posted.
“There’s certain motions that she’s doing in those videos that we’ve told the girls they can’t do,” said Toksy of what else she was told during the call. She said she and her daughter both didn’t know what those motions were.
Toksy said it was in that phone call her daughter was kicked off the squad.
Toksy said she requested a meeting with school officials during that call. Then, a few hours later, she said a DCS worker and two Knox County sheriff’s deputies showed up on her driveway. “I was like, ‘Did somebody call you about the videos?’ and she said, ‘Yeah, you know what we came for,'” Toksy recounted.
A portion of a letter from DCS reads, “DCS and law enforcement (LE-Knoxville Sheriff’s Office) have both investigated the allegation of sexual abuse to your daughter, Te’shauria Akinleye involving the posting/selling of inappropriate videos of your child and found the allegations to be unfounded.” The case was closed.
Toksy said she feels her daughter and the whole family are being treated unfairly because of their race.
“I think, to be honest, it’s because she’s Black,” she said. “If you look at some of the videos and compare her body and her dancing to some of the other girls and their body and their dancing, she has more of a body than they do.”
Toksy also said there are Hardin Valley cheerleaders who are white who have posted similar videos and still kept their spots on the team. She said she’s sent several emails to school officials with side-by-side comparisons of these dances.
Ultimately, she said it’s her house and her rules. “You can’t tell me that as a cheer coach that you have control over my child in my household when that’s under my time,” she said.
As for Te’shauria, she misses her teammates. “The teammates, they were like my family,” she said.
Te’shauria said she feels more communication could have avoided the entire situation. “I would have known what I needed to prevent from happening, or what I needed to prevent from doing in the videos, but I didn’t get that message so I didn’t know what I was doing wrong,” she said.
Te’shauria did mention during her interview with Nexstar’s WATE that she had been kicked off her past cheerleading team freshman year at Bearden High School. “I got into a little bit of drama there, that was my fault that I got kicked off the cheer team,” she said. “I don’t blame anything on anyone else.”
A Knox County Schools spokesperson said they are reviewing the situation.
Toksy Akinleye is now hiring an attorney. She’s also reached out to the ACLU.