Posted January 14, 2014

Florida school counselor shaves away ‘gang-related’ Heat logo on student’s head

The 11-year-old boy's mother wants to transfer him to a different school in the fallout from the actions taken by the district. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

The 11-year-old boy’s mother wants to transfer him to a different school in the fallout from the actions taken by the district. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)

Citing a haircut deemed by a school official to be “too distracting” and “gang-related,” a Florida school counselor shaved away a Miami Heat logo on an 11-year-old student’s head last week, and now the boy’s mother is looking to switch him to another school despite the district admitting the “action taken by personnel were not appropriate.”

According to a report on Tuesday from NBC Miami, 11-year-old Danny Valdes of Harns Marsh Middle School in Lehigh Acres, Fla., said his stepfather, Arnaldo Fernandez, shaved the logo into his head, along with the Miami skyline and the “305″ Miami area code in anticipation of a Heat game he went on to attend in the final weekend of his holiday break.

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“I wanted to get my hair like that to show how proud I am of my Heat,” said Valdes.

Since the haircut was deemed by school officials to be “too distracting” and “gang related,” Valdes was instead placed in in-school suspension when he returned to school last week. The boy’s stepfather said that after he received a phone call from the assistant principal notifying him of their belief that the haircut was inappropriate, and he said he would tailor the boy’s hair to a more standard style when he got home from school that day.

Instead, a school counselor took to the student’s head with a pair of clippers so that he could return to class, and the counselor claims he received permission to trim the boy’s hair from the stepfather, according to the report, which said the boy agreed to the haircut so that he could return to class but that the stepfather never gave school officials permission to cut the boy’s hair.

Hernandez said the whole ordeal was frustrating because the school acted autonomously without his consent as if it had the right to cut the boy’s hair, according to a report from Charlie Keegan of NBC:

“It’s frustrating because to me it seems like they think they got the power to do whatever they want.”

The district released a statement in the wake of the controversy, admitting that the actions taken by the school were not handled correctly:

“While the school counselor followed the wishes of the student and instructions of the student’s stepfather that were provided over the phone in the presence of several witnesses, the district acknowledges the action taken by personnel were not appropriate.”

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I find that sometimes we are too quick to place too great an importance on individual freedoms, especially in a school setting. I understand the young man's desire to support his Heat (even though they're not my team!), and I appreciate the stepfather's position. I even support the mother in her desire to have the child moved. I don't know if there will be anything resolved by moving him though. I think there needs to be more dialogue between the parties. The child must understand that there is no need to stand out so much, and maybe the authorities could have handled the matter better.

I just believe that sometimes we are too quick to pull the condemning trigger. 


It is not the schools place to tell me how to style my kids hair, and since when is the Heat gang related? What exactly about the Heat's logo is controversial exactly? All I know is a teacher puts their hands on my kid and it would be the last day they ever were able to teach anything, ever again.


1.  Follow district dress code violations.

2  Have no issues with discipline.

3.  Shave controversial/questionable designs on an ELEMENTARY STUDENT

4.  Have consequences