Two weeks ago, Beaumont Independent School District Taylor Career and Technology Center Principal Thomas Amons was accused of closing the district’s Adult Cosmetology program because he thought a prospective student might be gay. Cequana Clark, the program’s instructor since 2009, made those allegations even though, according to her, it ultimately cost her the job she loved.
“(Amons) told me he would rather shut down the program altogether than to have ‘riff-raff’ like that in the program,” Clark told The Examiner. “The next day, he shut down the program.”
Comment was sought from Amons immediately following news of the program’s closure, and calls were made to other district personnel seeking BISD’s side of the story – but no word was immediately forthcoming. In the days following the program’s closure, however, the district released two statements saying a budget issue prompted the end of adult cosmetology after classes had already resumed for the fall.
Citizens and some BISD board members wanted more than the words of the administration, however. Official requests for information followed public outcries demanding to see proof of BISD’s claims, but none has been produced as of yet.
“We’ve gotten nothing – not communication, nothing,” BISD trustee Mike Neil said. According to Neil, he’s requested information from the district to show a budget concern was what really prompted the hasty program closure. “They think they tell a nice story and it’s the end of it. But I don’t think this is going to just go away that easy.”
Fellow trustee Tom Neild says he, too, was unhappy with the information, or lack thereof, coming from BISD administration.
“I have received zero,” Neild said, adding that he has asked many times for information used in deciding to close the Taylor Center’s Adult Cosmetology program. “Our constituents are demanding proof; they don’t want a smoke and mirrors game. I don’t think it’s being unreasonable at all.”
Neild said the fact that it is taking so long to disseminate information that should already be available doesn’t bode well.
“The only legitimate excuse is that the information hasn’t been compiled yet, and wasn’t done when the decision was made to close the program,” he said. “I still don’t have a clear understanding as to how and why the decision was made to terminate and reopen. It’s still an unresolved issue to me.
“We got people suing us for not getting out information. When you take a long time to produce documents, it creates suspicion and greatly reduces your credibility.”
When asked for his take on what really happened to BISD’s Adult Cosmetology program at the Taylor Center, Neild said he would give the same answer he gives the many constituents asking the same question.
“What I tell them is that ‘I cannot give you a clear, honest answer because the information I’m looking for has been not given to me to be able to give that answer,’” he said. “When I respond to something, I like to be able to have support for that in my back pocket – and I don’t have that here.”