School, state try to recover trip money
Tour firm paid $100k, then canceled trip
March 8, 2017
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Lawyers for Danbury Public Schools are still trying to recover more than $100,000 in payments made to a now-defunct travel company contracted for a DHS Spring Break 2016 trip to Europe.
World language classrooms filled with tears last spring from students once they found out their trip to Paris, Spain and Morocco had been canceled suddenly by Lifetime Excurisons of North Brandford.
The trip was unexpectedly canceled two days before departure, affecting 32 travelers. Organizers say the company claimed that there had been a falling out with tour guides hired to take the students through the European streets.
Leakhena Un, a World Language teacher who organized the trip, said; “Twelve seniors were supposed to go; this was a trip of a lifetime. It was the end of their high school years and it was intended to be a trip to celebrate.”
The disappointment quickly turned to questions about refunds, which Un estimates to be $101,600.
Un said a long month went by without any word from Lifetime Excursions of North Brandford.
“We took it to [Superintendent Salvatore Pascarella], then to the Board of Ed and now it’s with the attorneys,” insurance investigators and the state Attorney General’s office, which investigates consumer fraud. “We’ve been waiting to hear from them.”
Pascarella referred questions to Principal Dan Donovan, who didn’t respond to requests for comment.
“I’ve tried to contact the insurance company for any updates but there are never any concrete answers. We were not the only school district who they canceled on,” Un said.
Noel Ashford, owner of the Lifetime Excursions, couldn’t be reached for comment. The company website has been deleted, and their business phone number has been disconnected.
A consumer review on bizpedia.com reflects the frustration: “Noel has ceased communicating with these districts. Please do not deal with Noel and his terribly dishonest business.”
Nearly a year later, Un says optimistically, “We are waiting for a positive outcome and hope the news from attorney’s office will come out faster. We don’t want this to impact any other future travels. It’s an amazing educational experience, so this is very unfortunate.”