Port Angeles School Board hears Hair School plea for new contract; ‘lawyers are involved now’
By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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The school has contracted with the North Olympic Peninsula Skills Center for more than a decade to provide training for professional certification in cosmetology, barbering, nail art and piercing.
Board members did not discuss the issue.
“Lawyers are involved now. It limits what we can say,” board Chairman Lonnie Linn said at Thursday’s meeting.
He declined to comment further on the dispute.
The Hair School owner Shara Smith said Saturday that she asked district officials to discuss with her the reasons her contract is to be terminated.
“Nobody would talk to me,” Smith said.
Smith had The Hair School’s attorney contact the district but has not received a reply, she said.
At Thursday’s meeting, Linn emphasized that the board’s decision was only to end its contract with the school.
“We are not closing the school,” Linn said.
He noted that the school is a private business with privately funded students in addition to the 19 skills center-funded students currently enrolled.
Students, parents and other supporters of The Hair School who spoke during the public comment session complained that a promised official discussion had been delayed.
Hair School supporters had been told Oct. 10 that the board would reconsider the cancellation of the contract last Thursday, but the matter was removed from the agenda and has been delayed until the Nov. 8 board meeting.
The skills center provides funding for students in Clallam and Jefferson counties to earn professional certificates through three cosmetology schools: The Hair School and Belle Academy of Cosmetology and Barbery in Port Angeles, and the Pacific Northwest Hair Academy in Port Hadlock.
The board voted Aug. 22 to end the district’s contract with The Hair School to teach vocational cosmetology courses effective Jan. 24 — the end of the current semester — after a parent, Kim Baublits, described difficulties she said her child had with the school.
According to minutes of the Aug. 22 meeting, Baublits told the board that her student’s contract with The Hair School was not being met, that no parent or student who signed the agreement was provided a list of fees and that she was unable to get a copy of compliance for background checks of employees in contact with the students.
She said her daughter was sent to collections for $11,722.28 after she did not complete the course of study.
Smith and a contingent of supporters attended the Oct. 10 board meeting to refute Baublits’ charges and provided documentation to the board to support the school’s position.
Smith also provided documentation to the Peninsula Daily News regarding the Baublits case, including copies of Hair School contracts, state certifications and letters from the state Board of Cosmetology stating that The Hair School is in compliance with state requirements.
At the Aug. 23 meeting, the board discussed the possibility of instituting its own cosmetology program at the skills center building at 905 W. Ninth St. in Port Angeles or of renting a building elsewhere.
On Thursday, students and parents asked that the board consider allowing students already enrolled at The Hair School to complete their certificate at The Hair School.
They also expressed concern that if the district opens its own school through the skills center, students who graduate from high school before completing their hours would be forced to transfer to a different school that may or may not use the same curriculum.
The Hair School’s student contract includes a scholarship to cover the cost of courses and hours not paid for by the skills center and after graduation from high school — if the student completes and graduates from the program.
Students who do not finish the program must repay the cost of those additional hours, according to the contract.
“Why would we change a program that we have had for so long, with so much success?” asked student Justine Gomez.
Gomez also questioned whether the district was aware of the costs of starting and running a cosmetology school, including start-up, salon-quality beauty products, certifying teachers and development of clientele.
“We shouldn’t have Walmart products,” she said.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last modified: October 26. 2013 5:57PM