In the aftermath of the canceling of Mentor Schools' 8th grade bus trip to Washington D.C. because of problems with Discovery Tours, other Northeast Ohio school districts have tried to figure out whether their planned trips can take place.
One of the districts that had wrestled with their decision is North Royalton Middle School, who had a planned trip for Washington set for May 9-11. On Thursday, Principal Jeff Cicerchi announced that the district will move forward with their trip as scheduled in a letter to parents and guardians:
Our rooms at the Hyatt Regency Dulles Hotel in Herndon, Virginia for our students and chaperones are secured. Additionally, Lakefront Lines is honoring the contract they had with Discovery Tours for our six buses because it was paid in full. We are working with Nowak Tours of Valley City and have confirmed the travel itinerary for our three-day field trip.
Cicerchi emphasizes that there will be no additional costs for the trip.
On Wednesday, Cicerchi and North Royalton School Superintendent Greg Gurka went to Discovery Tours headquarters in Mayfield Village to try to talk with someone face-to-face, but found the building was not occupied.
In Hudson, the district told parents on Wednesday that they 'strongly believe that our field trips will not be taking place through Discovery Tours.'
Hudson says they talked with Discovery last week and the district was assured that all arrangements and details of the trips were complete. On Wednesday, the company did not respond to inquiries asking for written confirmation. In the meantime, Hudson found out that their Washington D.C. hotel reservations had been canceled and payments for transportation had not been received by the charter bus companies for either planned field trip.
"We are deeply concerned about our students, parents, and all aspects of this developing issue," the letter continues. "Our District approves field trips as educational experiences that are integral to student learning. Therefore, we are moving forward to find alternative ways to provide these two field trips for our students."
572 5th and 8th grade students in Hudson are registered for the two field trips.
Chagrin Falls is another of the local districts trying to determine if a proposed Washington D.C. trip can take place. The district says they are working with the hotel and bus companies directly, as well as evaluating other options.
The controversy began on Tuesday, when Discovery Tours abruptly notified the Mentor Schools that they were unable to receive final confirmation for the hotel rooms, so the 8th grade field trip to Washington would be canceled.
Discovery Tours claimed the Hyatt Regency Dulles Hotel refused to honor its contract to provide rooms for the students. The company called the hotel's actions "unreasonable and inappropriate," adding that Hyatt demanded extra money for the rooms and refused to accept a credit card payment from Discovery Tours.
However, Hyatt Regency Dulles has since issued a statement saying Discovery Tours' claims "are not accurate," adding:
"Hyatt Regency Dulles is disappointed that Discovery Tours has been unable to provide sufficient payment owed under its contracts, despite the numerous options the hotel provided to Discovery Tours on several occasions over an extended period of time. As a result, the hotel was forced to unfortunately cancel accommodations for Discovery Tours student groups booked at the hotel. The statements from Discovery Tours about this situation are not accurate.We understand and appreciate how important these kinds of learning experiences are to the students, parents and schools involved. To that end, we have been in touch with Mentor Public Schools directly to offer coordination of alternative arrangements that would allow the students to visit our nation’s capital as soon as possible."
The Cleveland Cavaliers have opened their doors at Quicken Loans Arena to Mentor students and chaperones for Thursday's Game 2 Watch Party, providing free transportation, t-shirts, rally towels, entertainment, and a $15 food voucher.