Salem beauty school faced accreditation, financial aid loss

Cosmetology school closes, stuns students

The Academy of Hair Design, which closed its downtown Salem beauty school after 50 years in business, faced losing its accreditation and ability to offer federal financial aid, officials said.

Students and customers were greeted with a bright orange sign announcing the school's closure the morning of July 11.

Both were caught off guard.

One student, who was just days away from graduating, said she was told the morning of the closure.

A salon customer since 1986 said students were crying and struggling to figure out how and where to finish their schooling.

The family-owned business first opened in 1967. Over the years, the school trained hundreds of hairstylists and offered bargain-priced beauty services.

The academy's owner said the possibility of not being able to offer federal financial aid was the driving factor behind their closure, said Juan Baez-Arevalo, Director of Private Post-secondary Education Coordinating Commission.

Faced with losing that vital student aid, the owners made the difficult decision to close up shop, he said.

On June 6, the National Accrediting Commission of Career Arts and Sciences sent a letter to the academy's manager, Michael Snook, informing him the commission had acted to withdraw the school's accreditation.

The letter cited the company's failure to submit a financial compliance report at the end of 2016 as the reason for the withdraw.

The academy reserved the right to appeal the decision and was listed as being accredited but on probation in the U.S. Department of Education's database.

Snook did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

The sudden closure upset students waiting to receive their thousand-dollar equipment kits.

Baez-Arevalo said the school had no pending complaints at the time of their closure. The commission identified four kits pending delivery and was working with the owners to ensure the kits reached the former students.

"We're going to monitor this very closely," he said.

James Long, business manager of the College of Hair Design Careers in Salem, said about a dozen former academy students joined his school. Their program is based on an hourly requirement, so students are able to seamlessly transfer schools, he said.

The college is accredited, and students are eligible for federal financial aid.

The commission is working directly with the owners during the transition to help place students and transfer transcripts.

Closures like this do happen, Baez-Arevalo said, but they are not very common.

He highlighted the good school's owners have done in the community: volunteering their time and supplies to train incarcerated youths, fundraising and training hundreds of Oregonians.

"I think we, in our state, should be grateful for the contributions they've made over the years," he said.

Former Academy students with issues regarding kits or transcripts can contact the Higher Education Coordinating Commission Office of Private Postsecondary Education at 503-947-5716 or info.pps@state.or.us.

For questions, comments and news tips, email reporter Whitney Woodworth at wmwoodwort@statesmanjournal.com, call 503-399-6884 or follow on Twitter @wmwoodworth

© 2017 KGW-TV


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