La James facing 10 Iowa Code violations following inspection

BY QUENTIN MISIAG | MAY 17, 2013 5:00 AM

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A long-standing North Side Iowa City beauty school synonymous with trimming hair has come under fire for allegedly cutting corners with a number of Iowa safety and operation codes.

The Iowa Board of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences announced Thursday that La’ James International College, 227 E. Market St., has been charged with 10 counts of violations of the Iowa Code.

The charges against the 75-year-old company were filed following a June 14, 2012, state inspection.

Disciplinary action against owner Cynthia Becher and  administrator Tracy LaDage may result.

LaDage told The Daily Iowan on Thursday afternoon that a public statement would be announced by the end of the day but declined to comment further.

Calls made to the Iowa City location were immediately transferred back to LaDage.

According to the statement of charges made public by the board Thursday, a state investigator visited the college on June 14, 2012, and contended the facility had spas that were noncirculating and contained an assortment of debris. The inspector contended current business logs failed to specify which tub had been cleaned and who had done the cleaning.

The investigator also reportedly found that the business had paper, Chapstick, hair clippings, and pens mixed in with station-specific cleaning supplies.

“Respondents failed to exercise professional competency within their scope of practice as instructor and owner failed to provide a quality standard of learning,” according to the document.

The handful of charges that La’ James faces include failing to provide an esthetics classroom, failing to clean and document the cleaning of pedicure spas, failing to disinfect equipment and instruments, failing to supervise student instructors, failing to meet instructor-to-student ratio and employing instructors without certification.

A disciplinary hearing on the charges is scheduled for Jan. 13, 2014, in the board’s conference room in Des Moines. If any of the allegations are founded, the board could take disciplinary action against the defendants.

Iowa Department of Public Health Communications Director Polly Carver-Kimm said because of state confidentiality laws, no further public information regarding the La’ James charges could be released as of Thursday.

In an email, owner Becher said the company was made aware of the charges on Thursday.

“We were surprised by the allegations since the prior three inspections at the La’ James Iowa City school met state regulatory requirements,” she said. “However, it is not and will not be our practice to resolve any legal or regulatory issues through the news media.”

Becher said it is “important to our clients and our staff that all state laws and regulations be met in our facilities. La’ James International College has more than 75 years of instructing students to become successful stylists. La’ James graduates can be found across the United States and the world helping people with their beauty needs.”

The college’s website lists six additional locations —Des Moines, Cedar Falls, Fort Dodge, Davenport, East Moline, Ill., and Fremont, Neb. — all owned by Becher. She was named Iowa Small Business Woman of the Year in 2004 and Iowa Business’ Education Person of 2007.

According to its website, the beauty school has been educating students for more than 75 years.

Downtown developer Marc Moen, who owns the Brewery Square Building in which La’ James is located, said he was unaware of the charges relating to La’ James as of Thursday evening.

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