Special needs students learn tough lesson at local mall

This just in from the NewsCut “What Is Wrong With You?” department staff.

In the St. Louis area this week a group of special needs students were on a life skills trip to the local mall. Things were going pretty well for the kids and their teachers. They were able to work their way down a list of things they needed to buy at various stores when they stopped at the Bath and Body Works, the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports. They were kicked out.

“Advocate for themselves, ask questions, make purchases, document some of the information they found,” explained Principal Joe Sutton. “The hope was that this would be a real positive experience.”

The employee apparently assumed the group wouldn’t be buying anything and was concerned that if they walked past the sensor that tracks the number of people in the store each day, it would hurt their sales percentage.

The teachers and staff members on the trip were extremely frustrated and disappointed, and spoke with the mall manager as well as sharing the story on social media Thursday evening.

The trip turned out to be more than a life skills and social skills lesson, they were exposed to discrimination, one staff member posted on Facebook.

“In this day and age, it is downright disgusting that anyone with special needs would be treated in such manner,” special education teacher Casey Brown wrote on Facebook on Thursday.

Since then, Brown has received an email with an apology from the regional manager, who said they are addressing the problem.

Although some had initially called for a boycott of the store and Brown was unhappy with that particular employee, she said Friday she’s willing to give them another chance. After a conversation with the manager, she believes store officials are taking appropriate measures to train their employees so that all shoppers have a better experience.

It’s the second time this year a worker at the national chain has recoiled at the site of special needs students. It happened earlier this year in Alabama.

  • DavidG

    Both stores gave the same excuse, so it’s clearly a chain wide issue. I wonder if Bath and Body Works is somewhat unique in their use of sales percentages based on the customer count?

  • Jack

    Makes me want to go into the store multiple times just to window shop. 🙂

  • AK

    This story omits an important detail: what did the employee do? Did he/she tell them to leave? I assume that’s what happened, but it isn’t stated in the article.

    • From the linked article:

      “They were welcomed at other stores in the mall, but a worker stopped the groups before they walked into Bath and Body Works, saying they could not come in, Principal Joe Sutton said. The denial prompted some of the students to ask why they weren’t allowed to get things at the store.”

  • GlassOnion

    This discrimination is just so sickening. As a children’s mental health case worker, I am so disheartened to hear how secluded my clients are from the community and society. Parents are afraid to bring their kids to the store because of discrimination not only from stores like this but from the general public as well.

  • Jack

    I am certain Management was looking to ‘Make Big money,’ and lacked the management skills to foresee the situation as an opportunity to promote their company as accepting and patient.

  • TBE

    Why isn’t anyone pointing out that the teachers from this school showed up to hold a field trip inside the store without asking permission or even notifying the store. Then the teachers immediately went on social media and contacted the local news to share their side of the story. Not wanting to host an impromptu scavenger hunt is hardly discrimination. But the real lesson these teachers are giving their students is how not to handle conflict.

    • Kassie

      Going shopping isn’t a scavenger hunt. If I go to the grocery store with a list of things I need to find, I’m not playing a game. These kids had money and a list of things to buy. That is shopping.

      • TBE

        The teacher and the principal both called it a scavenger hunt. I don’t believe either source said they had a list of items to buy Or confirmed any details. But either way, why is a store required to cater to a school group that shows up unannounced? And why is everyone taking the embarrassed teacher’s word on what happened and why just because she decided to contact the media first to shame the business?

        • Jack

          “But either way, why is a store required to cater to a school group that shows up unannounced? And why is everyone taking the embarrassed teacher’s word on what happened and why just because she decided to contact the media first to shame the business?”

          Why? By handling the guests (shoppers) as they.would anyone else is how it is supposed to work. Regardless if they are buying anything they should let them in the store. How many people buy the first time in the store and how many come back after thinking about a potential purchase? How many people shop around?
          “The trip turned out to be more than a life skills and social skills lesson, they were exposed to discrimination, one staff member posted on Facebook.”
          It was a life lesson of the unfortunate kind that exists, which is discrimination. It was posted on Facebook because they wanted the public to know how Bed and Bath handles their customers. As oi all know, some people will do the most horrendous deeds onto others if they think no one will find out and they can ‘get away with it’..