BANGOR — Students who attended a 55-year-old Bangor beauty school that closed abruptly earlier this week gathered at the facility on Thursday to pick up their belongings and chat with their peers.

Mary Hunt, who has owned Mr. Bernard’s School of Hair Fashion since her father, Andrew Fournier, died last summer, was with them. She said that the reasons the business closed were “purely financial.”

She declined to go into detail, but said more information would be available in a few days. She said she wanted to focus on informing students of their options to continue their education.

Bernard’s had one building in Bangor with about 40 students and another in Lewiston with about 50, Hunt said.

“There are a lot of relationships here, personal and professional,” Hunt said as a group of more than a dozen former students and instructors chatted behind her at the building on Pine Street.

Jennifer Burgess, a student at the school for the past year and a half, said it has been an emotional week for her. She spent much of the day with her classmates before bringing her supplies home from school. She had just 250 hours of instruction left until graduation.


According to the school’s website, Mr. Bernard’s offered a 1,500-hour training program for beginning cosmetologists at a cost of $13,966, not including fees for state licensing, and a 1,000-hour course for student instructors at a cost of $7,650, a total that also did not include licensing fees.

Hunt said she’s working with the state’s cosmetology board and other schools in the region to iron out details of a “teach-out agreement” that will allow students to continue their educations elsewhere. That’s a time-consuming process, as the state and schools have to review the progress and financial aid information of each of the 90 students who would transfer.

“There’s only so much that anybody can do,” Burgess said.

Burgess said students have been told little about what caused the school’s financial woes, why the school wasn’t sold and why the news of its closure was so sudden.

Most students had secured financial aid to cover their tuition, and that financial aid should follow them to whichever school they decide to attend, according to Hunt. Those packages vary student by student.

What’s uncertain is how much of that financial aid will be returned by Mr. Bernard’s to the students so they can take it to their next educational endeavor, Burgess said.

“None of us know,” she said, adding that she was concerned she might have thrown a year and a half of education down the drain if she doesn’t have enough financial aid returned to complete her remaining 250 hours elsewhere.

Hunt said that she and other staff members tried to contact instructors and students “long before” the school announced the immediate closure in a Facebook posting on Monday. The school couldn’t reach some students because of changed phone numbers and full voicemail inboxes, Hunt said, so some students found out through Facebook on Monday as school officials continued to reach out to students.

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