For a group of St. Louis-area special needs high school students, a field trip to the Chesterfield Mall was supposed to be a lesson in problem-solving and life skills. Instead, the message they learned was this: kids with special needs are not welcome at Bath & Body Works.
KSDK in St. Louis reports that Joe Sutton, the principal at Fort Zumwalt North High School, had hoped the trip to the mall would be a special event for his students, and that the visit would teach important life lessons.
Advocate for themselves, ask questions, make purchases, document some of the information they found. The hope was that this would be a real positive experience.”
However, when the students approached Bath & Body Works, they were asked by the store’s manager not to come in. KSDK interviewed Sutton, as well as the teachers involved in the field trip, and they said they believed that the manager was concerned that the students would hurt the store’s bottom line.
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 entrances to Bath & Body Works stores are equipped with electronic sensors that monitor the number of people who enter the store, according to the St. Louis PostDispatch, and the number of visitors is compared to the store’s profits, producing a sales percentage. The manager at the Chesterfield Mall Bath & Body Works was apparently concerned that the high number of people entering the store–but not making any purchases–would hurt the store’s sales percentage.
This is not the first time that a group of special needs students has been turned away from a Bath & Body Works. According to the KSDK story, a similar incident took place at a mall in Alabama, with the store’s manager there also being concerned about the large number of students affecting the store’s sales percentage.
The treatment of the special needs students at Bath & Body Works has drawn outrage among parents and advocates for special needs children, and a social media campaign has been started to bring attention to their story.
Shame on you!!!! Chesterfield Bath & Body Works your employees are am EMBARRASSMENT!!!! http://t.co/802pAdYU17
— Sondra Kempf (@Floraville1971) November 8, 2014
Unfortunately, being out in public can sometimes be dangerous for kids and young adults with special needs, as this Inquisitr report makes clear.
KDSK spoke with Bath & Body Works about the incident with the special needs class, and received a statement from the company’s management.
“[Bath & Body Works] 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.”
Do you believe the Bath & Body Works store manager who turned away the special needs kids acted inappropriately?
[Image courtesy of: The Dubai Mall]