Keep the Cosmetology School open at Benton Harbor High School.

Keep the Cosmetology School open at Benton Harbor High School.

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Elnora Gavin started this petition to President, BHAS School Board Stephen Mitchell and

For years, Benton Harbor students interested in the Cosmetology industry were forced to travel outside of the community to learn the craft from beauty schools that lack the cultural experience of caring for black hair and beauty treatments. Not having a local beauty school meant that if students wanted to obtain a license they would have to work with beauty schools that did not have expertise in multicultural beauty dynamics. The students that attended schools in white communities had to teach themselves the particulars of black hair, travel the distance and depending on their stage in life, pay handsomely for the courses as well. Many times they had to do this while maintaining a second job. Benton Harbor Area Schools is the only public school that serves a population of predominantly black residents in Berrien County. Cathy Cohn, a licensed stylist who understood the struggles completed all of the state mandates and coursework to start a Cosmetology school at Benton Harbor High School as a Careers and Technical Education(CTE) program. Her school attracted students from surrounding districts, provided high school credits, hands-on experience and was on track to offer licenses as well as serve the public. While the State of Michigan continues to provide support to the surrounding districts, charters, and private schools, Benton Harbor's Cosmetology and other CTE programs have been under siege causing great disregard for the program's founder until the student's sadly lost Mrs. Cohn as their instructor. Mrs. Burnett a caucasian woman oblivious to the cultural struggle was recently hired by one of the state-enforced human resources channels as CTE Director. Shortly after being hired, rather than ensuring the program had the necessary tools to thrive, consulting with the founder of the program, offering to promote the program or helping the new instructor complete the necessary requirements to enhance its offerings, Mrs. Burnette, recommended the elimination of the Cosmetology school with no regard for student or community input. The school board accepted her recommendation without seeking community feedback. Sign, share, tag, call them! We need your voice on this to help the school board, the Interim Superintendent, the CTE Director see that we want to keep our Cosmetology School open. This course also has hands-on chemistry, math and business lessons. If they do this right, this school will bring multiple streams of income back into the district - multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars, and self-employed students. If the district leaders neglect that school, all of the resources will go to the other districts. See how that works? They already have over $50,000 worth of equipment invested in that course. Every year matters. You do not just close that. Let's encourage them to get the school license ready over the summer.

The pattern of starving programs/schools In Benton Harbor public schools then eliminating the offerings without community input has led to the loss of valuable Benton Harbor High School programs and staff. Mrs. Burnett offered the possibility of restarting the program after a year of shutting the school down and repurposing the cosmetology school building into an office for district staff personnel. This option is counterproductive indeed. We need Mrs. Burnette to reconsider her recommendation. We also need the Interim Superintendent and school board to change their decision as well as policies of allowing critical closures without considerations of solutions. This petition has 3 requests:

  1. Keep the Cosmetology school open.
  2. Request Mrs. Cohn to serve as a consultant to get the school up to code.
  3. Implement a policy that prevents decision-makers from closing another school, Careers and Technical Education Program, or special program without holding a formal town hall in which
    1. the professional recommending the shutdown provides a presentation indicating his/her efforts to provide adequate support, and
    2. the community has an opportunity to provide input.
0 have signed. Let’s get to 200!
At 200 signatures, this petition is more likely to be featured in recommendations!