SAN FRANCISCO -– The parents of a disabled San Francisco boy said they were turned away from the Yerba Buena Ice Skating Center on Jan. 8 because their son uses a wheelchair.
Zane Robinson, 10, has a chromosomal abnormality that has left him deaf and developmentally disabled. He and his parents and four other friends were already skating when an attendant told his mother they had to stop.
“We didn’t even make one rotation before some guy came up to me and said, ‘I’m sorry I’m going to have to ask you to get off the ice, ma’am,’” said Kelli Robinson, Zane’s mother.
“I said, ‘I’m sorry … what did I do?’ And he said, ‘no, it’s it’s the wheelchair,’ ” Robinson said.
The Robinsons said they attended an event just last month at the very same ice rink and had so much fun they vowed to return.
But on the return visit at 5 p.m. Saturday afternoon, Robinson said the attendant and two managers told them they just couldn’t skate because it wasn’t safe. The Robinsons argued that it was illegal and immoral, but they say the managers repeatedly insisted they were just following corporate policy.
“They were stripping our dignity away, treating us – especially Zane – as less than human,” said Dan Robinson, Zane’s father.
“They weren’t even apologetic,” said Kelli Robinson. “I kept trying to appeal to their sensibilities as humans. This is wrong.”
Yerba Buena Ice Skating Center General Manager Paige Scott told CBS 5 that she is also upset the family was kicked out. She said the Center hosts skating events for disabled people and even teaches special-needs skating classes, so the employees should have known better.
Scott said turning Zane away is, in fact, contrary to corporate policy.
“We are doing a full investigation of everything and I want to reassure the family that this will not happen again,” Scott said. “This was an isolated incident of employees who are uninformed.”
In an email, Scott apologized to the Robinson family and invited them back to skate any time.
The Robinsons said they want to see some serious disciplinary action on the part of the employees who turned them away, but will likely accept the invitation to return because Zane enjoys the activity so much.
“He loves to skate and actually, there are very few things that we can do with him that are physical and social,” Mrs. Robinson said.
Asked if anyone will be fired, Scott said she could not discuss disciplinary procedures because it is an internal human relations matter. She said employees will be undergoing sensitivity training.
“This is my house,” Scott said, as she began to tear up away from CBS 5’s camera. “This should not have happened.”
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Posted by BA Haller at 4:55 PM