Lee County mom says 13-year-old son pulled out of class for hairstyle

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LEHIGH ACRES, Fla.- A mother says her 13-year-old son was removed by an administrator from his classroom at Varsity Lakes Middle School because of his haircut.

School officials say Jovany Rivera’s hair was violating the dress code which prohibits “lines/designs in eyebrows or hair,” but his mom, Yasmin Rivera, disagrees.

“I felt embarrassed, like everyone was looking at me,” said Jovany Rivera.

Yasmin Rivera says her son gets good grades, usually stays out of trouble, and she couldn’t understand the trouble behind a line in his hair, which she calls a ‘part.’

“The way I see it, it’s a part. It’s not a design, I don’t believe it’s a distraction to anybody in the classroom.”

“I have friends that are hairdressers and they’ve all told me that it’s a gentlemen’s hair cut, and actually more kids should go to school looking a little bit more clean cut like him.”

Rivera says when she first got a call from the school, she was told the issue had been fixed.

“She covered it up is what she said. She covered up his line and that she sent him back to class and I said, ‘you covered up his line?’ She goes, ‘yes, we do that sometimes for students so they can go back to class. Sometimes we spray something in their hair.'”

When her son came home, Rivera says “I just thought it looked like someone took a sharpie and tried to color it in.”

Jovany tells WINK News it was not a spray, but didn’t look permanent.

“It looked like a crayon that you use on your face. Like when you want to draw cat whiskers. I felt dirty, I just didn’t feel like it was right. ” said Jovany. “After I had it in my hair I felt embarrassed like everyone was looking at me, and they were like what happened to your hair? Who put that in there?”

WINK News reached out to the Lee County School district who said “school personnel would not offer to do this for students without parent acknowledgement.”

Rivera again stated she never gave anyone permission to touch her son, let alone draw in his hair.

“I was not happy with the teacher touching my son, putting product in his hair without my permission…. Missing class, pulling him out, humiliating him, sending him back to class, and then calling me the next day for the same thing. ”

The 13-year-old returned to school the next day, and was pulled out of class again. He was sent home two days in a row, after the initial incident.

“Every minute that we pull him out of class for a hairstyle issue is hurting him. I feel that there’s bigger issues that need to be addressed and this hairstyle is not one,” Rivera said.

The school district stands by the dress code. They tell WINK News the issue had been “thoroughly addressed” with student’s mother. Rivera says, a call after the fact was too late.

On Friday, the Lee County School District said the dress code could change next year to accommodate hairstyles like Jovany’s, but it’s up to the parent, teacher organization to vote on changes, and bring them forward to the SACS committee.


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