Wal-Mart has issued a public apology to a group of 75 elementary students after they were told to leave one of the discount giant's stores in Florida after they began to sing "God Bless America" in honor of the victims of Sept. 11.
The group of students was from Coconut Palm Elementary in Pembroke Pines and according to the schools choir director, Ana Conner, the group had already received permission to sing at the store from one of the stores managers, as reported by WSVN.
The students were part of the school's "I Will" campaign that was promoting public engagement. However, what the students received was a day filled with disappointment.
"On a scale from one to 10, a 10 as far as disappointment goes," Conner told WSVN.
Principal Terri Thelmas explained that after the students were told they were not able to sing in the store they went outside to perform in the parking lot. Thelmas further revealed that as they were finishing singing, local police began to arrive stating that they were responding to a "flash mob," according to reports from The Sun Sentinel.
Thelmas also explained that she was the one who contacted the store branch and organized the performance with a store manager named "Frank." Unfortunately, the manger on duty for that day stated that having the group sing was a liability, adding that "Frank" had been fired.
"I just thought that it wasn't right and I just thought that she should have let it go because it was September 11th," Adriana DiSciascio, a member of the school's choir, told CBS.
A spokeswoman for Wal-Mart later apologized to the school on behalf of the company, stating the choir would be able to return to the store to perform.
"We regret this happened and apologize to the students, parents and the school for this experience," Kayla Whaling, a Wal-Mart spokesperson, told The Sun Sentinel.
"Unfortunately, this was a situation of miscommunication, and it should have been handled differently … we're also inviting the kids back to the store to help honor the victims and fallen heroes," Whaling added.