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.