Parent Upset Because Controversial
School Counselor Received Award
Lee County Schools have been honoring educators for their work. Last week, the district announced the teachers and staff of the year, and the middle school guidance counselor winner caught our attention.
For Arnaldo Fernandez, a head of hair is a canvas. The Lehigh Acres barber is known for the designs he creates — including this one shaved into his stepson’s hair this January.
When 6th grader Danny Valdes went to Harns Marsh Middle School with the haircut, administrators said it wasn’t allowed and wanted to send Valdes to in-school suspension.
“It was very surprising and everybody was pretty angry. And Danny was just embarrassed most of all,” Fernandez said.
The school and Fernandez have different stories about what happened next, but at some point school counselor Jeffrey Becker shaved Danny’s head so he could go back to class. District leaders say he did it with good intentions, but it should not have happened.
“I’m still a little bit in shock over the whole situation,” Fernandez said.
The most shocking news for Fernandez came last week when Becker, the man who shaved his son’s head, won Middle School Guidance Counselor of the Year for the county.
“We’ve been waiting to see what would happen to the counselor, but I guess he got best Counselor of the Year,” he said.
A district spokesperson sticks behind Becker and the award, saying one bad day doesn’t mean he wasn’t outstanding the rest of the year. Other counselors nominated Becker. They say he handles each student as though they’re his own child and is spearheading the push for Harns Marsh Middle School to adopt a new leadership program.
As for Fernandez, his son’s at a different school with a different haircut. He’s disappointed about Becker’s award saying someone who violated school policy should not be rewarded.