Leader Blues

Friday, June 23, 2006

TOP STORY >> Federal agents raid Arthurís Beauty College

BY PEG KENYON
Leader staff writer

IN SHORT: The Inspector Generalís Office of the U.S. Department of Education receives assistance from Jacksonville police during search for documents.

Federal agents Thursday morning raided Arthurís Beauty College in Jacksonville and shut the beauty school down for a while, although it had reopened for business on Friday.

The agents, who were assisted by Jacksonville police, wonít comment on the reasons the search warrant was executed at the school, which is located at 2600 John Harden Drive near the air base exit.

Three other campuses associated with Arthurís Beauty College in Conway, Pine Bluff and Fort Smith were also raided.
The Jacksonville Police Department assisted the Inspector Generalís Office of the U.S. Department of Education. Mary Mitchelson, who is affiliated with the federal agency, declined comment when asked about a possible investigation.
ďWe donít confirm or deny anything,Ē Mitchelson told The Leader.

At about 11:30 a.m. Thursday, an Inspector Generalís official at the scene also declined comment, but she said the beauty college was closed to the public.

Mitchelson did explain that her office investigates audits pertaining to funding for educational institutions that receive federal student loans. The public can view an audit when it is completed.

According to its Web site, the Inspector Generalís Office conducts audits, investigations, and inspections of education programs and operations. School personnel are responsible for reporting fraud, waste or other abuse to the office. The type of information that an institution must refer pertains to applicantsí eligibility for Title IV, Higher Education Act program assistance or the amount of assistance.

Examples of these abuses include false claims of independent-student status, false claims of citizenship, the use of false identities, false statements about income and forgeries of signatures or certifications.

Jacksonville Police Chief Robert Baker confirmed that the raid involved a federal search warrant but the Jacksonville Police Depart-ment made no arrests in connection with the incident.

On Friday morning, it was business as usual for Arthurís Beauty College in Jacksonville.

Chris Strawn of Plummerville, who owns the school along with her husband Eddie, did not return calls from The Leader.
The couple has owned the schools since 1999.

According to its Web site, Arthurís Beauty College provides education and practical training needed to become a licensed professional in the fields of cosmetology, cosmetology instructor, esthetics and manicuring.

According to the Web site JobBankUSA.com, Arthurís Beau-ty College has financial aid programs available. Those who qualify could receive Pell grants and other federal aid such as Direct Loans and loan consolidation for existing loans.

Arthurís Beauty College is licensed by the Arkansas Board of Cosmetology and accredited by National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences in Alexandria, Va.

The school is a member of Ark-ansas Beauty Schools Association, American Association of Cosmetology Schools, Arkansas Beauti-cians Association, Better Business Bureau, Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce, Pine Bluff Chamber of Commerce and Conway Chamber of Commerce.