Parents upset after being locked out of NC high school graduation

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

Dozens of people at a North Carolina high school were locked out of their loved one’s graduation, even with tickets. (WTVD-TV)

CLAYTON, N.C. — Dozens of people at a North Carolina high school were locked out of their loved one’s graduation, even with tickets.

WTVD-TV reported that parents spent Friday locked out of the Clayton High School graduation after school officials moved the outdoor ceremony indoors.

Some parents said they were turned away because of space. The school system says that’s not true: they say parents were turned away because they were late.

“This is my fourth grandchild and my last grandchild to graduate from this high school,” said Beverly Wilson, who showed up for the ceremony. “And I was not able to see it.”

Several loved ones missed their big moment as many parents and their high school graduates were left standing in the parking lot.

“My friend came up to me and she was crying and I said, ‘what’s wrong girl?’ and she said that her parents weren’t able to come in,'” said Cindy Aguirre, a Clayton High graduate.

“It breaks our hearts because we worked hard and the students have worked really hard as well as the family,” said Tracey Peedin Jones, of Johnston County Schools.

Johnston County schools said individual principals made the call to move commencements inside.

They tell us Clayton High’s principal made the call just three hours before the 6:30 p.m. ceremony because of a 60 percent chance of rain. Rain did not fall during the ceremony.

“They should have made better provisions,” Wilson said. “They still could have had it outside, shortened it and if it rained had a better place for everyone to go.”

Parents and administrators each agree that the 318 grads received four tickets for indoor guests. They also agree that students were given 10 tickets for an outdoor event. But that’s where the agreement ends.

“When we got here it was like 6:28,” said Leticia Harris, a mother who showed up for the ceremony.

“It was explained that if they arrived after 6:30, they would not be allowed in while seniors were marching,” said Tracey Peedin Jones, of Johnston County Schools.

“A guy came back and said the principal had made an executive decision and said that it was filled to capacity,” Leticia Harris said.

Parents say a sheriff’s deputy turned them away because the school gave out too many tickets. But school officials say those parents were notified they couldn’t get in once the event started.

“I am very, very upset about this school,” Beverly Wilson said.

The school system also said parents were notified they’d be able to watch a live stream of the graduation if they couldn’t make it. The school system said parents were told these rules at the beginning of the school year.


  • j r nance (@rnance1950)

    They should have got there on Time, these people probably are late for everything but expect everyone else to make new rules to satisfy them, it doesn’t work that way in the Real World or shouldn’t….

      • Former Clayton Student

        I was actually inside. They literally had people coming in right up until the students came in. The School isn’t at fault these people WERE late. Common sense. Don’t “Get there” at 6:28 for an event starting at 6:30.

      • Former Clayton Student

        Also… that picture is EXTREMELY misleading….. notice the kids in caps and gowns. that picture was taken after the ceremony

  • tracy inman

    terrible form. bad call on the school’s part. you just ripped away precious memories from so many people. it’s not like they can redo this again.

  • Aphugh

    Had the same problem at our ceremony. With only a small group of college RN grads (65 or so) we had over 20 people walking in as we are processing in. Really ticked me off. I wished they would have locked the doors.

  • Former Clayton Student

    I was there. And actually inside……… because i showed up ON TIME…. they closed the doors at 630 because the GRADUATES were entering……. The gym was pretty full yes… But showing up late shouldn’t allow you to interrupt the ceremony for those of us that were there on time. Furthermore, the school gave 4 tickets per family for ‘on the field’ seats which were the only seats that would be allowed if the event was inside. Also Kudos the the administration for moving it inside. The storms in NC this time of year can come quick and be quite violent, had they had it outside as planned and the weather turned someone could have been seriously hurt.

  • Smith

    A graduation is an important time in a young person’s life & can influence how they go on to view the world later. If marching was the problem, the doors should have been closed until the graduates were seated, then reopened so people could at least stand in the back and watch them receive their diploma. For those blaming the lateness, there are a lot of factors that cause us to be late to important things. Please remember to never be upset if you are fired for being late to work because that is a very important part of your life and different from this as you are actually being paid to be there. “Judge not lest ye also be judged.” This will be the only graduation some of these students ever see in their lives & this certainly didn’t inspire them to try to achieve greatness. It is a sad situation that people are so thoughtless of their fellow man in today’s world and yet we wonder why people are so mean. God bless you all and please take time to open your eyes to the people around you and notice the burdens and sadness that are affecting how people are able to live their lives. While we are not always able to appear well-to-do, not free of responsibility in order to be on time every time nor socially equal, we are all the creations of God himself and deserve to be treated with respect and dignity.

    • sinner 3

      Yea Yea linda I can tell you are used to getting your way ! Well the real world will teach you different !

    • j r nance (@rnance1950)

      If you are a Parent that wants to see their children/child graduate you would be on TIME plus some of the people that were griping because they couldn’t get in because they were Late were NOT their Parents but other members of the family so if you Respect your Children & really care if you see them graduate you should be there Early enough to watch the ceremony, its Not the School’s Fault because they are responsible for hundreds of people & they made the Right Call to LOCK the doors, but the parents are only responsible for themselves & could have been there on time to see their children If they cared enough about them…..

  • sinner 3

    All this whining from the parents and grandparents BET you MONEY their kids are whiny ases too !!

  • only HE can judge me and I care

    Show me where only black complained about anything. . People like you need to sign up to go to mars You have a problem

  • Mary

    The late excuse is a lie. Several people showed up at the field because they were never even notified that the event had been moved. Most people were coming from the field. Also- we got there on time and they were only letting four out of ten ticket holders in for each student. I did not get to go in because I had a stadium ticket and not field. So yes they gave out too many tickets for their “back up” location. Very messy and horribly handled by the school.

  • its my business

    Very well said, Mary. I have gone to very large events and still do with ticket in hand. It is important to be on time. However, I think since the school made the last ditch effort to move indoors, they could have held the procession/walk down to the chidren’s seats for 10 minutes or so to allow the ticket holders to come inside. My son graduated at the top of his class and sat on the stage in hi school. I sat on the benches inside. There is tons of space and chairs. My point being, the school was set on the procession to start @ 6:30PM, regardless. If I was one of those people on the field trying to figure out where to go – I would have raised some cain, let’s just say ….. They should have held back the procession for 10 minutes to allow everyone inside

  • Stephanie

    Seriously Sophie??? You’re going to make this about color?? Wow…..your comment shows how ignorance is still alive and well, even in 2014! I pray that God will open your eyes!

Comments are closed.