A special needs class in Chesterfield, MO was turned away from a Bath and Body Works store at a local mall while on a field trip.
The teens, who are all students at Fort Zumwalt North High School in Chesterfield, were engaged in a scavenger hunt throughout the mall that teachers arranged to help the students strengthen their life and social skills. Principal Joe Sutton says, according to KSDK News, that the trip had been going well and proceeding without incident, until the group attempted to enter Bath and Body Works.
“The manager of the store said that he didn't want to serve us,” Sutton says. “He was fairly certain that our kids weren't there to purchase and as a result he would prefer we didn't come in. So, he didn't allow two or three groups of kids to come in.”
The manager was apparently concerned that sensors at the stores entrance, which correspond to sales numbers, would show that the group was not there to buy anything and that sales figures for the day would suffer as a result.
Sutton and the school, however, believe that the students faced discrimination when they attempted to enter the store. According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, special education teacher Casey Brown shared her frustration via Facebook following the incident.
“In this day and age, it is downright disgusting that anyone with special needs would be treated in such manner,” Brown wrote.
Following outrage from the local community, the store released a statement apologizing for what happened, saying it “Very much regrets this misunderstanding and have personally spoken with the teacher to offer our most sincere apology and welcome her, and her students, in our stores at any time."
Principal Sutton says he feels confident that they have learned their lesson and show a willingness to change. “The message we received is that they were going to take this very seriously,” Sutton stated, adding that he and the school “anticipate them making some changes and we're counting on that."
In March, a Bath and Body Works in Alabama similarly turned away special needs kids in a supposed “misunderstanding” between the store and the group of students.