A retailer in a Montgomery, Ala. mall asked a group of special needs students and their teacher to leave the store last week because he believed they wouldn't buy anything.
The students from Crump Elementary were there on a school assignment Friday, when a manager asked the kids and their teacher, Dawn Ellis, to leave through a side exit.
Bath and Body Works parent company L Brands said the incident was a misunderstanding and released an apology on Tuesday.
"The mix-up at Bath and Body Works occurred when an employee apparently misunderstood the purpose of the visit," said Montgomery Public Schools spokesman Tom Salter.
Several special needs classes from MPS were at the mall Friday to practice life skills.
"We work with many stores around Montgomery to provide students with special circumstances the opportunity to learn to find and purchase the things they need," Salter said.
Teachers sent the students on scavenger hunts to find particular items in the mall. When Ellis told the manager they were on a scavenger hunt, he mistook that to mean they wouldn’t be buying anything.
The manager worried that if no purchases were made, it would throw off the store’s customer-purchase count. The store is equipped with a sensor that monitors foot traffic and combines those stats with purchases. Each store is expected to reach a certain percentage of sales per the total number of customers. There was no sensor on the side door, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.
“We very much regret this misunderstanding and have personally met with Ms. Ellis and her students to offer our most sincere apology and welcome them in our stores at any time," L Brands said in a statement.
Bath and Body Works district manager visited Ellis’ class at school, and the store offered free soaps to students.