A planned bus trip for more than 500 Mentor 8th grade students to Washington D.C. that was set to leave on Wednesday morning, has been canceled.
Superintendent Bill Porter made the announcement to parents and guardians of the students in a letter and on YouTube late Tuesday afternoon.
Porter told Mentor families that the company contracted for the trip, Discovery Tours, notified the school system that they were unable to receive final confirmation for the hotel rooms, so the trip would be canceled.
When Mentor Schools reached out to the hotel in Washington D.C., they were told that "Discovery Tours was unable to meet contractual obligations." Discovery Tours has told Mentor otherwise.
"Regardless, even if we were able to secure the hotel rooms directly through the hotel ourselves, we no longer have faith in Discovery Tours to trust them with the most precious cargo -- our students -- to feel comfortable to continue on this trip, especially with such little time before tomorrow morning," Porter wrote.
Late Tuesday night, Joe Cipolletti, Senior Vice President of Product Development for Discovery Tours released the following statement to WKYC.
"As you can imagine, we are dealing with a lot at the moment. Per our legal counsel, I am to provide the following press release regarding the matter with Mentor Schools..."
"Discovery Tours was told late yesterday afternoon by the Hyatt Regency Dulles Hotel that it would not honor its contract with Discovery Tours to provide rooms on May 1st and May 2nd. Discovery Tours believes that Hyatt’s behavior is unreasonable and inappropriate because it was paid 100% of the money that was invoiced by Hyatt for the Mentor Schools Trip as of April 24, 2018. Hyatt then sent an amended bill demanding additional funds on April 27th which Discovery Tours paid by credit card on April 30th. Hyatt then refused to accept that credit card payment and insisted that it was entitled to keep over $34,000.00 of Discovery Tour funds as liquidated damages. Discovery Tours is consulting with an attorney to determine whether litigation should be initiated to address this situation."
Mentor's middle school principals plan to bring together all of the 8th grade students on Wednesday to discuss the situation. School will be in session as scheduled.
Porter says Mentor will do "everything in our power to address the financial implications of the cancellation. Refunds for the trip are undoubtedly on everyone’s minds and at this time, we do not have full explanations yet, but I can assure you, we will work diligently to secure restitution."