BROWNING - The Browning School District has released a statement on last week's incident at a country store in Kalispell.
Reports circulated on social media after an incident involving the Browning cross-country team being allegedly racially discriminated against by the owner of Woody's Country Store.
Woody's issued an apology via their Facebook page and said their intent was not to discriminate.
Browning Public Schools Superintendent Corrina Guardipee-Hall issued this statement Tuesday in response:
"The Browning Public School acknowledges that there was in fact an unfortunate incident on September 28, 2018 at the Woody’s Country Store located outside of Kalispell, Montana. Our Browning High School Cross-Country team stopped at the store. According to Coach Laforge, the owner of the store began trying to stop students from entering. Coach Laforge and the store owner discussed this matter outside. Apparently, the owner did not feel comfortable with our bus load of students going into the store. When Coach Laforge told the owner they would leave, the owner indicated that would be best. Coach Laforge then went into the store and instructed the students to put their items back telling them they were leaving and they left. Browning Public schools believes that Coach Laforge acted in a professional manner. The manager did apologize for this incident as the students and Coach Laforge were exiting.
At no time were any of our students and coaches at fault. All students were respectful and courteous and followed the coach’s directive. I am recommending that our buses and teams not stop at this establishment in the future."
Guardipee-Hall said she couldn't provide any further comment.
Woody's apology, posted Sept. 28:
"We, the staff, and the management of Woody’s Country Store strive to provide the best service to our customers that we possibly can. We especially enjoy serving the various school athletes that stop by, either on their way to an event or on the way home. It is a joy and a pleasure to serve these students, and our desire is to make their experience at Woody’s a positive one.
While we certainly welcome groups of all sizes, large groups can be a challenge due to limited staff. We strive to serve the needs of all of our customers as quickly and efficiently as possible, respecting their time. Every customer at Woody’s is valued and appreciated.
However, we recognize we are not infallible, and we make mistakes. Today, a group of Browning Students visited. When a few dozen students entered the store, we were concerned about the store’s ability to accomodate so many people at once. However, we want to be clear that we welcome all customers at Woody’s, and we are grateful when they choose to visit.
The staff of Woody’s Country Store sincerely apologizes for the treatment the group from Browning received. These students and staff are most certainly welcome at Woody’s, and we would be happy to serve them in the future.
This issue is being addressed internally, and we are taking steps to ensure all of our guests are treated with courtesy and respect at all times."