In the aftermath of the Mentor Schools' decision to cancel a bus trip to Washington D.C. for more than 500 of their 8th grade students because of problems with the tour company, other Northeast Ohio school districts are trying to figure out if their proposed student trips can go forward.
Discovery Tours, the agency in charge of the trip, claims the Hyatt Regency Dulles Hotel refused to honor its contract to provide rooms for the Mentor students. The hotel has since issued a statement saying Discovery Tours' claims "are not accurate."
Other districts who have upcoming field trips contracted with Discovery Tours are struggling to get answers from the company.
In a note to parents on Wednesday evening, Hudson City Schools say 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.
North Royalton Middle School has a planned trip to Washington D.C. for their 8th graders on May 9-11 through Discovery Tours. Principal Jeff Cicerchi wrote a letter to parents and guardians on Wednesday with an update on their field trip:
Superintendent Greg Gurka and I traveled to Discovery Tours headquarters in Mayfield Village this morning in an attempt to talk with someone face-to-face since our phone conversations were unsuccessful. The building was not occupied. We have worked directly with the Hyatt Regency Dulles Hotel to secure our rooms, although the hotel did not receive payment for these rooms. We also called the bus company and they told us the buses are paid for but the contract is through Discovery Tours. We are still determining if the bus company will honor that contract and we will have use of that for transportation. In addition, we are exploring a number of options to see if it is possible to provide a meaningful experience for our students while they are in our nation's capital. There are many factors involved with this situation and we promise to keep you updated as we have more details. Thank you for your continued patience.
Another district that also has an upcoming 8th grade field trip to Washington D.C. through Discovery is Chagrin Falls. Superintendent Robert Hunt wrote the following note to parents on Wednesday.
As a follow up to our email to you last evening regarding the upcoming Washington, D.C. trip for our eighth-graders, we have reached out on numerous occasions to Discovery Tours and have been unsuccessful. We also have reached out to a number of schools in the area who are in a similar position.
We are now attempting to work with the hotel and bus companies directly, as well as evaluate other options. It is our goal to keep you apprised of our work as we know this is a valuable, memorable educational and social experience for our students. Once again, we appreciate your patience and will continue to communicate with you as this progresses