District 65 pledges to shoulder the financial burden caused by postponing Nichols Middle School trip

After a back-and-forth email correspondence yesterday, Superintendent Devon Horton and Nichols Middle School’s parents resolved a miscommunication about a planned trip that District 65 had canceled. The district eventually decided to move the trip.

Nichols’ parents received an email from Principal Marcus Wright on Jan. 14, stating that as a result of the Omicron Gulf, District 65 had decided to cancel the 8th grade civil rights trip to Alabama, which was scheduled to take place from 17 to 17. to be canceled by February 20.

The last-minute cancellation left the 36 parents who didn’t have travel insurance — and spent $1,500 on the trip — eligible for a refund from Brightspark Travel, the contracted travel agency that helped plan the trip.

Concerned about the financial impact on families and upset at the district’s lack of communication given the amount of time invested in planning the trip, parents emailed Horton and other school board members. They demanded that the district reinstate the trip for the original dates and provide clarification as to why the trip was delayed.

In his email responses, Horton was “very transparent,” said a parent of Nichols. The trip is being postponed and families whose children cannot attend the trip later this school year will be reimbursed, either by Brightspark Travel or by the district, if the travel agency declines, he wrote.

Horton also explained why the trip was postponed at the last minute, citing a series of missteps by both the school and the district. In particular, a misunderstanding as to whether the trip was classified as an “excursion” or a “privately organized trip” caused some confusion.

Under the School Board’s 6:240 Field Trip and Recreational Class Travel Policy, excursions outside a 200-mile radius of the school or at night require board approval.

While there were some talks about the trip earlier in the pandemic, the district believed the trip was no longer going ahead, according to Horton’s email. Instead, board members spoke to principals about possibly planning an in-state trip, open to all students, he wrote.

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