No British invasion: Barron Collier band cancels trip to London amid controversy

Looks like London is not calling Barron Collier High School any more.

A planned trip for the band to be one of 12 American bands to play London’s New Year’s Day Parade and Festival in 2011 is off.

Parents and students were notified of the cancellation in an e-mail from the school’s band boosters Tuesday evening.

According to the e-mail, at a meeting for students going to London last week, a survey was taken and most chose not to travel to London.

Several parents who contacted the Naples Daily News said when former band director Kelly Parker transferred from Barron Collier High School to Golden Terrace Elementary School, between 160 and 170 people were signed up for the trip to London in June. Once Parker was transferred, several students and chaperones decided not to go on the trip.

At the meeting held Thursday, parents and students were told there could be additional costs before the group took a vote. The group voted 2 to 1 in what parents called a “bloody” meeting to not go on the trip.

The members then asked that a final vote be taken of the 139 names — of students, companions and chaperones — on the travel list, according to the e-mail. Sixty-nine respondents said they did not want to go to London, with 42 saying they wanted the trip to go on. Ten did not respond to the survey, even when followed up with an additional e-mail and/or phone call, 17 canceled and requested refunds to the trip without responding the to the survey and one could not answer with the information being provided, according to the e-mail.

“Based on these results, the trip has been cancelled,” according to the e-mail, which was signed by the BCH Band Boosters.

But Bob Crissman, whose daughter was in the band, said he believed some people received surveys who should not have received them.

“It went to me, and I bought tickets outside the tour deal,” he said.

Refund checks, excluding a $200 deposit per traveler that was non-refundable as of June 1, will be sent to families. That $200 was sent as a down payment to London in June, according to the e-mail.

Barron Collier High School officials confirmed that the trip was cancelled Wednesday. Band Booster President Dino Lauricella declined comment Wednesday evening.

Parker secured the trip for the students last year. Lord Duncan Sandys, Lord Mayor of the City of Westminster in London, England, made the trip in March to extend the invitation to the band personally.

Crissman believes that the whole situation is detrimental to the students, including his daughter, who decided not to continue with the band program. He said if Superintendent Dennis Thompson had acted on Principal Tim Kutz’s recommendation in March to replace Parker, rather than waiting until the end of July, the fall-out might not have been so bad.

“It’s an embarrassment,” he said.

Connect with K-12 education policy reporter Katherine Albers at www.naplesnews.com/staff/katherine-albers/.

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