This is an email - apparently from Robert Sudy, owner of the International Language Centers, regarding the Spanish Club trip that was cancelled after the airline tickets were not purchased for the school by Sudy's company. The Yancey County News received this email from Yancey County Schools.
From: International Language Centers
It was a lot to mull over, and I did not want to call you late. But I did want to get back to you today, and in any event it might be easier to get into written down. This was an email I sent to some students who reserved and paid in advance, who have been to the school many times before in previous years:
“Due to a misappropriation of funds, and series of setbacks such as sabotage of our web site for many months we have come to realize, as well as an excessive number of cancellations, and last minute withdrawal of interest from an investor and bank that I have been working on and whom both previously ensured me a positive result, after 12 years we will likely have to close within a couple weeks. Normally I would cover any shortfall as I have in years past when necessary, but current personal circumstances as well make it impossible to continue. It is truly unfortunate that everything negative came at once. Not for me, though this decision has affected me greatly, but the staff who have depended on me and the school for their livelihood, and our numerous students such as you that return to us year after year. I truly apologize, and if you have made advanced payment for your stay I will endeavor to return the funds as soon as is possible.”
I do appreciate your messages, and you understanding even though you have people to answer to. Last week I should have called you and apologize. But I opted for an email as everything was quite crazy and I am the type that funds it easier to deal with writing things down, and when I saw your message Friday around 11 I wrote you back within a couple hours after I looked into things. I then had a lot of research to do and as I am sure you know it was quite hectic. I am still stunned and find myself stuck at every turn. I am sorry you were given incorrect or old numbers. But I thought your school had our email and US phone, as I know you did, and I never received any message from them at all. My parents got a call around the time I was on the phone calling lawyers and communicating with the school. I received a call from them with a number to call in Burnsville (not sure who it was) and said I would call back in half an hour. But within 20 minutes is when I got another call saying the police were at my parent’s place. So this all happened within a space of a few hours.
I spoke to two lawyers and both said the situation is a bit unusual. I mentioned about providing refunds whenever I could and I was asked why, since we are going bankrupt. I informed the lawyer that it was an ethical decision, and though it may take a very long time to reach everyone it was the correct thing to do. Our assets are meager and would only cover immediate salaries of teachers and staff. Normally we have less than $2,000 at any time to refund, from last week we have over 4 times this much, plus your group of course. My plan last week was to find and secure a job, of which I should be able to find from my extensive experience and credentials, and use any excess besides lodging and food to pay our student back, with your group the top of the list. I am not sure what will happen now if there are going to be judgments against me. I checked last week and my police records were clean, not even speeding ticket in 10 years, but of course this does not mean they will be in the future so I am applying now at several jobs. Another setback was a group cancelling due to lack of budget and another that is just not making a trip this year. The only good thing from all this is that is this means your group is the only major client owed money.
While we had 20% of the reservations the last few months as compared to previous years, I thought there would be still no issues. Perhaps I was overly optimistic as I am by nature, but if any of the above one or two things happened it could have been dealt with, but when they were all lumped together it spelled disaster. As Murphy’s law would have it, the last few days have seen a number of reservations come in, as well as a group of 30 interested in coming end of the year, and another interested as well, which would be huge. I am hesitant to book anyone though considering what happened. I just informed these people that we are restructuring at the moment and not accepting payments, so as not to lose their business but if they have to book this instant that we would recommend another school to them. I am tempted to use these reservation and have them pay in order to start setting things straight, making sure only one person is responsible and having strict controls in place, using only the profit of each to avoid a similar situation. While I am sure this would work, I am still very hesitant to do this as I just simply do not want anything else bad to happen. I still have to think on this. In the meantime I have put word out to the clients who have worked for us for years that we could appreciate some assistance and hopefully things will turn out. Right now we are still scheduled to close, although some teachers and staff want to start a new school as a cooperative. The only reason we have not already is that we have the rest of the month for rent, and are letting current month bills fall behind, in order that students already there can continue as long as possible, thus lessening our total future refund obligations.
No matter what happens, I will not pay any bill or debt from the past until you are all refunded every penny you paid. Right now I have no idea on the timeline and I am sure it will be a hassle as it will be in increments at a time, but this is something that I do want to do. I have no problem when either I get a job and star to make things right, or some miracle happens and we get an investor or the like, to either send to your school’s account and they can handle things, or to send to you directly as I am sure that you will be honest and fair in your dealings with the students.
Once again I am so very sorry for everything, and besides an eventual return of funds I hope to make things additionally right somehow in the future. I can still call you anytime, just let me know, and of course if any positive news comes in I will notify you immediately.