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Discovery Tours offices empty following school trip scandal

Posted at 5:45 PM, May 04, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-04 22:32:28-04

Three days after a Mentor school's planned eight-grade trip to Washington D.C. was canceled, there is still no one at the offices of Discovery Tours in Mayfield.

There was no answer when News 5 went to the Richmond Heights home of tour groups owner, Alfred Cipolletti.

There was no answer at the company Vice President Joe Cipolletti's home in Hudson, either.

RELATED: 500 Mentor 8th-graders get the biggest letdown ever, D.C. trip canceled day before departure

According to the company website, the company is "family owned" and has run student tours for more than 40 years. 

"We always conduct business at the very highest ethical level while maintaining strong partnerships with our suppliers," the website said.

There are now dozens of school districts and a national association who no longer agree with that description. 

In the first contact from the company since May 2nd, Alfred Cipolletti said in a brief e-mail sent to Twinsburg City School District Friday afternoon effective immediately, Discovery Tours will be suspending all operations. 

"We regret to inform you that Discovery Tours Inc. has suspended its operations, effective immediately.  All future trips are cancelled.  Further information will be provided when available." - Alfred Cipolletti. 

Twinsburg Superintendent Kathryn Powers told News 5 she has been in contact with the Twinsburg  Board of Education's legal counsel and they are discussing their options. She expects a decision will be made sometime next week. 

News 5 caught up with Student and Youth Travel Association president, Carylann Assante over the phone.

SYTA is based in the D.C. area and has represented Discovery Tours since 2008.

According to Assante, after the issues this week, they're revoking Discovery Tours membership. 

She confirmed that at least 25 to 30 Ohio Schools are affected and currently calling her office because they're scrambling to maintain the trips planned through Discovery Tours. Those tours, she said, have already been paid for. 

SYTA is currently doing everything they can to help all the schools impacted by this. All of them have trips planned in the next few weeks. 

RELATED: More schools report issues with Discovery Tours, company won't answer calls

Assante told News 5 she hasn't been able to reach the owner either. 

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine is now looking into the company. The AG's office has taken more than 170 complaints about Discovery Tours this week.