Parents packed the band room at Southside High School in Fort Smith Wednesday night. “We wanted to be able to look them in the eye and tell them what’s happened,” said Band Director Steve Kesner.
The crowd demanded answers after approximately $267,000 went missing. The money was supposed to be used for a trip to Hawaii in June.
“It’s heartbreaking. It’s a very hard pill to swallow to find out somebody has betrayed our confidence,” said Bob Thorn, a parent.
About 300 people were supposed to go to Hawaii in June. They cancelled the trip after Kesner says their travel agent admitted to “mishandling” the funds.
Kesner and Southside Band Director Steve Carrier contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the United States Attorney’s Office. They are investigating. The band directors say two other schools also lost money.
The band still has 44-percent of their money. Parents can either get a refund or put that money towards a different trip to Orlando. “Hawaii versus Orlando, it was, it’s a little different, but Disney’s a place to make happy memories,” said Joan Coffman, a parent.
Parents remain optimistic and hope for a full refund. “I think it will happen, but it’ll be a long drawn out process to do that,” said Thorn.
The band directors encouraged parents to also file complaints and reach out to local legislators.
The trip to Orlando is scheduled to take place the same week as the Hawaii trip.