Channel 3 Eyewitness News has been following up from student and graduates of the Marinello School of Beauty. After our story aired, dozens of people contacted WFSB wanting to speak out and spur change for future students.
"Finally, someone went above and beyond the company and I congratulate that student for being strong and standing up for what is right," said graduate Tracy Burkhardt.
Burkhardt said she loves her career, but still isn't happy with the training she received at the Marinello School of Beauty. So when she saw our story on the troubles that current students are experiencing, she and a half dozen others contacted us to speak up.
"I cut with left-handed scissors until I was in the junior level and I'm right handed," said graduate Alysee Barstow.
"My first day I didn't even have a teacher," Megan Schnitzler said.
Many of the graduates said they were students when Marinello bought the Willimantic campus of what used to be the Brio Academy of Cosmetology. But they said throughout that time the problems stayed the same.
That left many feeling unprepared after paying nearly $20,000 for the program.
"I do not feel confident going into a salon and saying, ‘pick me,'" Schnitzler said. "I want to be a hairdresser because I need too much help and I need someone to teach me step-by-step what I should have already learned."
WFSB found out that those students represent just a fraction of the complaints. We received countless emails since the story aired, and many said they're still afraid to talk on camera even after graduating and finding a job.
After repeated attempts to get Marinello's side of the story, both when our story aired and again after receiving the additional complaints, they finally granted a request for an on-camera interview.
"I'm not saying that I'm hearing nothing but good things," said Marinello Regional Manager Dennis Tarr. "Certainly we've had out complaints during the process and we work very hard to resolve any of those."
Channel 3's Kim Lucey gave him specific complaints we received.
"The complaints are a lack of materials, lack of opportunities, not being well trained to go into the industry and having to take independent courses once they graduate and also not having consistency with the teaching process," she said. "Those are the specific complaints."
Tarr said he hadn't heard of them.
"No," he said. "We never heard those. In fact, when you brought those up to me I researched that very thoroughly and found really there was no validity in them."
Tarr said they survey the students twice a year, and the responses from the Willimantic Branch have been overwhelmingly positive.
A big difference from what we were told on camera.
"They're claiming that they're such a great school out in California and they came here and it seems like everything got flipped upside down," graduate Sarah Dziedzic said.
"I would definitely transfer out to a better school," graduate Maxcieen Wilson said.
Those graduates said they hope that by speaking out, the program will be improved for future students.
"I hope that Marinello takes the time to make changes that are necessary in Willimantic so that these students who are maybe taking on a second career can actually learn what it is they're promoting they learn," graduate Rebecca Theriaque said.
The Department of Public Health said it was still reviewing two complaints filed against the school.
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