Bankruptcy ruins school’s trip to France

By Jen Lynds, BDN Staff
Posted May 21, 2009, at 8:50 p.m.

EASTON, Maine — Students and adult chaperones at Easton High School who raised $65,000 for a summer trip to France have lost their money to a tour company that filed for bankruptcy.

A group of students, former students and adult chaperones who have been studying French, as well as others interested in visiting France, intended to take their trip in July, just as groups from the school have done for the past 10 years.

This year, however, there is little hope the trip will take place because the $65,000 cost of the trip was sent to Voyageur Educational Tours, which declared bankruptcy several weeks ago.

“They most likely have lost their trip,” Frank Keenan, superintendent of the Easton School Department, said Thursday. “This has been a tough experience for those involved.”

Keenan said that French teacher Mary Ruth Nichols has made the trip with students, former students and adults for the past 10 years. He said the district has worked with Massachusetts-based Voyageur Tours for a number of years to arrange the logistics and accommodations.

“We have coordinated many trips with them, and they have always been a great company to work with,” Keenan said. “But this year is a stunning reversal of our past experiences.”

In preparation for this year’s trip, 10 students, one former student and 11 adults saved money and raised funds to pay for the nine-day journey.

Just recently, however, the district’s attorney, Jeffrey T. Piampiano, confirmed that Voyageur Educational Tours had filed for bankruptcy in Massachusetts.

Keenan said it is unlikely the students will get their money back in time for the trip.

“The company has not sent us a formal notice yet, but other schools have found out about it and our attorney found out,” he said.

The superintendent said the students and adults involved were “shocked, saddened and angry” upon hearing the news.

Keenan said Piampiano is working with the bankruptcy trustee in Massachusetts to see if the money will be returned, but said he is not optimistic.

“We will have to wait and see, but we are not the only school that has been affected by this,” he said Thursday.

According to an Internet search, students in Maryland, North Dakota and Pennsylvania also have been affected by the bankruptcy.

Piampiano said Thursday he believes the possibility of the group getting their money back is “slim.”

“My belief is that the trustee has the interest of the students in mind as he tries to administer the assets,” he said. “He will actively work to orchestrate as soft a landing as possible for the students.”

Company representatives were not available for comment Thursday.

http://bangordailynews.com/2009/05/21/news/bankruptcy-ruins-schools-trip-to-france/ printed on December 25, 2014