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

MENTOR, Ohio - A school trip for the eighth-grade Mentor Public Schools students to Washington D.C. was set and ready to go. Students were excited, bags were packed, lots of money was paid. 

But on Tuesday — the day before the trip — Discovery Tours, the company contracted by the school district to handle the trip, canceled. 

What's 511 students multiplied by $455 each? That's $232,505 paid.

Discovery Tours told Mentor Public Schools it had to cancel the trip because the company was unable to receive final confirmation for the hotel rooms. The school district said it contacted the hotel itself to get more information.

"We were told by hotel management that, under advice from the hotel's legal counsel, all they could disclose to us is: Discovery Tours was unable to meet the contractual obligations," Superintendent Bill Porter wrote in a letter to parents.

However, the school district said Discovery Tours told them otherwise. But the superintendent said even if the district was able to secure the hotel rooms itself, it wouldn't feel comfortable entrusting the travel company with its students.

"I am sure you are feeling angry as you read this, as all of us have been since we received the news late this afternoon," Porter wrote. "We know this is an educational experience students look forward to for years prior to 8th grade that is being taken from them for no apparent reason."

Porter said the middle school principals will bring all eighth graders together on Wednesday to discuss the situation, and school will be in session as usual.

Mentor Public Schools said it is also working 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," the letter said.

Discovery Tours released the following statement to News 5:

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.

The Attorney General's Office is encouraging parents to file a complaint against Discovery Tours.

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