District regroups amid Adult Cosmetology fiasco
Announcements that BISD is re-opening the Adult Cosmetology program might have been premature now that the district has hit a snag in licensing the program to be administered through the Beaumont Independent School District Continuing Education department. The district’s original Adult Cosmetology program, held at the Taylor Career and Technology Center for more than a decade, was closed abruptly Sept. 13 after classes had already resumed for the fall semester. The reason for the closure, class instructor Cequana Clark said, is because campus Principal Thomas Amons would rather shutter the program altogether than allow admission to a man he thought was gay after a brief encounter with the prospective student on the first day of class Sept 10.
“As soon as we got a student that (Amons) thought was gay, that was the end. He saw (22-year-old Kwmane Gray) come into the class, and then he came to get me out of there,” Clark said of Principal Amons. The instructor said she was told to tell Gray he wasn’t welcome in the program.
Clark, who was responsible for the Adult Cosmetology program as well as after-school tutorials for the Taylor Career Center, said she was appalled by Amons’ actions when questioned by The Examiner about the program’s closure on Sept. 12. A day after Clark spoke with the newspaper, she was asked to turn in her keys and receipt book and exit the campus with parting words from Amons — “Your services are no longer needed here.”
Amid public outcry demanding an investigation into allegations posed by one district employee against another of outright bigotry against a prospective student, BISD released word that the district would re-open the Adult Cosmetology program under the directionof the Continuing Education department. A mailer sent to Beaumont residents at the beginning of October states that the new program will still be housed at the Taylor Career Center, but no start date was given.
According to information provided for this article, the reason no start date has been announced for the new program is because the district has no license through the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation to instruct adults in the cosmetology field and had been improperly administering the adult program on the high school TDLR license. An investigation is currently ongoing at the TDLR to determine what penalties, if any, will be imposed on the district for the license mismanagement.
In the interim, BISD has made an offer to former instructor Cequana Clark asking that she return to the district to help get the new program “up and running.”
Although Clark’s services weren’t needed, in Amons’ opinion, the former BISD instructor is now needed to facilitate getting the new Adult Cosmetology program licensed through the state and ready for class instruction, according to BISD spokesman Ron Reynolds. Clark, who has yet to respond to BISD’s offer, is needed to prepare the curriculum, among other things, Reynolds added.
Clark said whether or not to return to the district as an instructor is a hard decision for her to make.
“They offered me a position, but it isn’t the one I had before all of this,” she said. According to Clark, BISD has offered her the position of Adult Cosmetology instructor with a small raise, but will not reinstate her to the position she held as a substitute and tutorial instructor for the Taylor Career Center’s high school students – a position she held for three years – although she admitted that she had no interest in working at a campus where Amons is still allowed to run the show.
“If I do go back, it will probably just be to get the program licensed, not to teach any classes,” she said. “That way, students who need the opportunity to attend the classes will have that available to them whether I’m there or not. I just feel really uncomfortable about the Taylor Career Center right now – and I’m still not satisfied with how Mr. Gray has been treated.”
Clark said she is optimistic that BISD is working to right the wrong perpetrated by principal Amons when he closed a program that was enriching the lives of adults who paid to get instruction at the school. Still, she has her doubts considering that BISD administrators have yet to talk to her about her claims against Amons.
“I don’t think I can go back into the district without talking with (BISD Superintendent) Dr. Chargois first,” she said. “It would put me more at ease. Who wants to work looking over their shoulder?”
Clark said she was “very hurt and very offended” that the district believed Amons’ claim that the program was closed due to “budget restraints” despite there being no proof to that assertion.
“Basically, they’re calling me a liar – and I don’t know how they can make a decision on something like that without talking to both sides,” Clark said. “The fact that they offered me a job lets me know that they were wrong in the first place.”
Gray is currently exploring both his legal and educational options. Clark has started a scholarship fund for the young man at Safe Credit Union at 2202 N. 11th St. under account No. 691441. Gray hopes to continue his education elsewhere starting in the spring. Clark said the timing of the program’s cancellation meant that the Adult Cosmetology students had missed the opportunity to enroll elsewhere for the current semester.