Assemblyman Cymbrowitz Introduces Legislation Mandating Full Refunds for School Trips Canceled During Pandemic

Assemblyman Steven Cymbrowitz (D-Brooklyn) has introduced legislation (A.10617) that would make the failure to provide a full refund for school-related trips canceled during the COVID-19 pandemic, or any other declared state of emergency, a civil offense.

“The COVID-19 pandemic created an unprecedented risk and loss for all New Yorkers, including students and families, culminating in an emergency declaration by the Governor that limited travel and closed the entire New York State public and non-public school systems,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said. “At the same time that COVID-19 began to spread, families across the state were getting ready to send their kids on school trips but found that the increased risk made their trips potentially life-threatening.”

Students, families, and schools found that when they attempted to cancel their trips and requested refunds, they were either denied or offered vouchers for travel with no guarantee of usability, the lawmaker said.

“They found themselves alone, taken advantage of, and without assistance while attempting to negotiate a refund with providers who were not negotiating in good faith,” said Assemblyman Cymbrowitz. He added that some families sought the assistance of the New York State Attorney General’s office but were provided no help.

“It became evident that the consumer protections in place are inadequate and must be strengthened,” he said.

“No travel provider should have a windfall at the expense of students and families who are given only two choices: risk health and safety or be provided no service at their expense. Such a choice is inherently unethical and predatory,” Assemblyman Cymbrowitz said. “When a state of emergency is declared, a third option, a full refund, must be provided. My bill will make it a misdemeanor to withhold that choice, and make the Attorney General, the people’s lawyer, the enforcing authority.”

Violators will be subject to a civil penalty of up to $5,000.