Tennessee Academy of Cosmetology unexpectedly shuts down

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The doors at the Tennessee Academy of Cosmetology were locked and the lights off just hours after officials announced it would be closing its door permanently.

"We regret to inform you that the Tennessee Academy of Cosmetology.... has ceased operating," a sign taped to the windows read. "You will not be able to complete your training with us."

The letter continued to state the closure was effective immediately.

The note didn't say why the school shutdown, but it's effective immediately.

It's also sent students into a panic.

"I was pretty upset, and I’m about half way though. I’m about two hours away. I’ve spent lots of money and gas trying to get here," said Danielle Henges, who has been going to the school for quite some time. "We were supposed to come to school today, and we got an email last night saying, no you’re good."

The state told WREG they got a copy of the email too when it was notified about the closure after business hours Monday. Tennessee Higher Education Commission officials said they would have a conference call Tuesday afternoon, and then send an update to students.

Gould's Academy, one of three local institutions listed on the letter that would be able to accept transfers, said they've been on the phone all day with distressed students trying to decide their next move. They said they are legally trying to find out what they can do but are willing to work with every student on an individual basis.

Students were told they can transfer to the Paul Mitchell location, Empire Beauty School or Gould's.

This isn't the first time the school has been in the spotlight.

In May 2015, the school was ordered by the Tennessee Board of Cosmetology to pay a $1,000 penalty for using unlicensed instructors to teach without supervision.

Prior to that WREG's April Thompson met a student who claimed to have numerous problems with the school, but particularly with what happened with her financial aid. That led to the discovery of numerous documents going back years where dozens of students had filed complaints with the State Cosmetology Board about the Tennessee Academy of Cosmetology on numerous areas, some related to the handling of Financial Aid Funds.

In 2013, two Financial Audits by the Department of Education found Tennessee Academy of Cosmetology in compliance with standards despite student complaints.

WREG reached out the academy by phone and email, but have yet to hear back.