CANTON, Ohio - The scandal continues to grow surrounding Discovery Tours, the embattled company several school districts say either canceled or simply won't respond to their requests for answers about what happened to hundreds of thousands of dollars intended for out of state field trips.
Now a Canton based competitor, Traveling Classrooms, is offering their services, in some cases, free of charge to districts determined to salvage their trips to Chicago and Washington, D.C. at the last minute.
"This is a big deal for these kids and to have it deprived," said company owner Bob Jackson. "It's terrible so whatever we can do to help at no charge to the school, we can help."
Jackson is currently working to secure travel arrangements for at least three school districts impacted by Discovery Tours.
"It's the first time I've heard or seen it happen in 32 years of being in the business," said Jackson. "So this is not the norm, this is the exception."
Administrators at Perry Local Schools in Massillon say time may be on their side. They've paid around $114,000 thousand dollars for an 8th grade trip to D.C.
Despite no response from Discovery Tours about where their money went, school officials remain optimistic they can deliver the trip promised.
"We are going to Washington, D.C. on May 21st, with our eighth graders," said Edison Middle School Principal Diane Kittelberger. "They are going to get the trip that they paid for."
Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh says her office has been in contact with Hudson and Twinsburg City School Districts regarding issues with the tour company.
Fox 8 confirmed Riverside Schools paid an estimated $106,000 dollars for a trip to Chicago next week. A district spokesperson says they have used Discovery Tours for several years without an issue. They plan to make a final decision about their trip by Sunday.
The superintendent for Indian Valley Local Schools says they paid an estimated $51,000 dollars for their 146-student trip to D.C. on May 8th. However, the group is still going despite no response from Discovery Tours.
The superintendent says although hotel and charter buses were mostly paid through Discovery Tours, the district came up with an additional several thousand dollars at the last minute to save the trip. They plan to seek restitution.
The Ohio Attorney General's Office received more than 170 complaints about Discovery Tours in the past few days.