WSAZ investigation | Still no reimbursement for school trips

HUNTINGTON, West Virginia (WSAZ) – It’s been over a year and a half since 260 eighth-graders in Cabell County were supposed to travel to the nation’s Capitol on the trip of a lifetime.

But that trip, like so many others, was canceled due to COVID-19 restrictions when the trip was cut short.

Now parents and guardians always have empty purses, wondering where their money is and why it still hasn’t been refunded.

WSAZ first reported this story in July 2020. Students were to pay $ 800 each for a four-day trip to Washington DC from May 3-6. Now, 576 days later, the parents still don’t have the cash on hand.

“For some people, $ 1,600 might not be a lot, but it is for a lot of families,” said Mary Jobe. “But to be left hanging is just amazing.”

Jobe is raising his two grandchildren on a fixed income. Not only was it difficult for her, but also for the children, who missed an incredible experience.

“My children have been injured for a long time,” she said. “I mean, we’re still talking about it today.”

School documents given to parents indicated that no refund would be given unless the school canceled the trip.

Kelsey Souto of News Channel 3 has been asking questions since we first heard about the issue. When we initially contacted the Cabell County School District in July 2020 to find out what was being done to collect the money, an hour before our story aired, parents received a robot call from the district, saying they had filed a complaint with the West Virginia district attorney. General’s office in the hope of resolving the dispute.

Parents say shortly after receiving a letter from the school system with an update on July 23, 2020. But that’s the last time they heard about it.

“All people want is to be recognized and to know that something is being done or who is benefiting from the money,” Jobe said.

WSAZ spoke with Sherrone Hornbuckle, the school district’s chief legal counsel, on Tuesday. She confirms that the district has severed ties with Eric Morrison and ET Advisors, the company they have entered into a deal with to plan the trips.

They say they have also since updated their policies and procedures regarding contracts with suppliers.

Hornbuckle made the following statement:

“We understand the difficulties this puts parents. We continue to work diligently to recover funds for families. We will exhaust all legal remedies to make these families whole. “

It’s a financial hole that Jobe says she’s still trying to get out of and won’t be filled overnight.

“That’s why I contacted you,” she told WSAZ. “I just don’t think this should be swept under the rug.”

The school district confirms that ET Advisors is still in business.

WSAZ reached out to Eric Morrison’s new lawyer who said:

“The deal was with the schools and they should have worked it out with the parents when it happened. It is an unfortunate situation and we are actively engaged with the school lawyer and hope the situation will be resolved soon. “

Mediation is planned for both parties through the attorney general’s office in the coming weeks.

To read our previous coverage, click here.

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