Longview school officials, parents in dispute over $1,000 gift cards

first_imgLONGVIEW — After weeks of selling flower pots to repay the $1,000 per person cost to attend and compete at a national marketing club conference, six Mark Morris High School students attended a DECA event in Orlando, Fla., at the end of April. On their way home, the group and their adviser learned their flight was overbooked.The group volunteered to board different flights in exchange for $1,000 American Express gift cards — and unwittingly put themselves in the center of a controversy between parents and school officials.Just days after getting home, the students received a school district notice that they must turn in those gift cards to the school. Parents say the students, which included two seniors, were told by Mark Morris Principal Brooks Cooper that they would accrue a fine on their personal school accounts that could prevent them from graduating.District officials claim the gift cards belong to the school because they could be considered a donation by the airline to fund the students’ trip. Allowing student to keep them would be a gifting of public funds, the district says, citing a state auditor’s opinion.But parents and students say they raised money to cover the cost of the trip once they were back, so the gift cards should belong to the students. (The fact that the amount on on the gift cards matches the cost of the conference is purely coincidental, and the cards were not a refund for the plane tickets.)last_img read more