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A Homewood Suites by Hilton hotel in Washington, D.C., will refund thousands of dollars to an elementary school after media reports — with the help of Kodak Black — revealed dissatisfaction with the fallout of a planned graduation trip in March amid coronavirus.
“We have gone ahead and begun the process to fully refund the school’s deposit and are awaiting the opportunity to discuss further with the school,” according to a written statement provided by the hotel’s management company, Crestline Hotels & Resorts, provided by Hilton spokesperson Meg Ryan.
The Parent Teacher Organization from Pinewood Elementary in Broward County, Florida, organized a graduation trip to Washington in March for the school’s fifth graders, raising money through candy sales, donations and a car wash for the $18,000 in hotel costs, according to Bradford Cohen, a criminal lawyer, who took on the case pro bono.
Once it became clear the trip couldn’t continue go as planned due to the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, they tried to cancel the trip – only to be told they owed $2,600 in cancellation fees for the roughly 85 people going and 30 rooms.
Negotiations began, and when only $7,000 was refunded last week, Cohen stepped in to help, as did one of his high-profile clients: rapper Kodak Black. The rapper, who is in prison, called attention to the incident on his Instagram and volunteered to help.
“It’s not a smart thing to do in a time of crisis to just hold onto people’s money and stick by whatever your guidelines originally were,” Cohen told USA TODAY.
Cohen publicized the case on Instagram and Twitter and ultimately spoke with employees at the hotel, including someone in the legal department who indicated there was a miscommunication and that they would receive a full refund.
“We were surprised to learn of Pinewood Elementary’s dissatisfaction with what we understood to be a matter that was resolved amicably and agreed upon in March,” according to the hotel management company statement. “Upon learning (yesterday) morning of their disappointment through media reports, we immediately reached out to the school to discuss the matter.”
“This is a tough time for everybody, but the solution is not to keep people’s money. That’s not the solution,” Cohen said. “The solution is to work with everyone and try to come up with something that’s amicable for everyone.”
USA TODAY has reached out to Pinewood Elementary for further comment.
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