An 11-year-old disabled girl was denied access to a Georgia maritime museum Monday after an employee told the family that the child's wheelchair would "get the carpets dirty."
Lexi Haas, who suffers from a brain dysfunction that leaves her physically nonfunctional, and her family traveled to the Ships of the Sea Museum in Savannah, Ga., Monday, but when they attempted to enter the facility, an employee told them it wouldn’t be possible, according to WBTV.com.
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After saying the wheelchair would get the carpets dirty, the employee offered the Haases one of the museum's own wheelchairs for Lexi to use. But the chair didn't have the necessary straps needed to stabilize her so the employee offered to "have Lexi sit outside and watch a video on a tiny TV while the rest of us walked through the exhibits," the Haas family wrote on Facebook earlier this week.
Museum curator Wendy Melton admits that is what happened but said it is not the museum's policy to refuse entry to anyone because of a disability.
"We share your shock and disbelief, since the way in which the staff member chose to answer the Haas family's very reasonable request was in violation of the both the letter and the spirit of the Museum's accessibility policy," Ships of the Sea said in an apology letter to the Haases Wednesday, WBTV reports.
"Until the day after the incident, both in practice and in staff discussions regarding accessibility there has never been any time when the state of the carpet was even discussed as a cause for concern. Hence our own shock and dismay when we heard of the incident," the letter read. "While the staff member did not act with malice, her unilateral disregard of Lexi and her family, our written policy, and violation of the spirit of our policy was a shocking, unilateral, and egregious departure from our policy, both written and understood and a heartbreaking lack of judgment. She has been dismissed."
The Haas family does not plan to file an Americans With Disabilities Act complaint, but said they hope the matter will be resolved for future museum customers.
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