BATON ROUGE, LA (NBC LOCAL 33) (FOX 44) - BATON ROUGE, La (NBC LOCAL 33) (FOX 44) - Families are frustrated after they say they were locked out of Belaire High School's graduation at BRCC Friday evening.
Some say they were locked out of the building even though they had a ticket. This means parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and other loved ones (some needing mobility assistance) were left outside of the building.
What was supposed to be Elijah’s proud moment, ended with him leaving his graduation ceremony early.
“I’m my mother’s first child to graduate and she couldn’t get in.” said Elijah, graduate of Belaire High School.
Tonight, families were told they could not enter Belaire high school’s graduation at Baton Rouge Community College. Earlier this school year a decision was made to change the venue and ticket the event for the first time in recent years, but even with tickets in hand, parents were denied access.
“They already limited us to ten tickets We abided by the ten tickets that were allowed everybody came they were in line with their tickets after a certain amount they wouldn’t let nobody in.” said a parent of a graduate.
Frustrated with the decision, both the graduates and supporters are now asking who’s responsible for ruining their joyous occasion.
“Even if it was a ticketed event you should’ve still allowed everyone who had a ticket to come inside. I’m so mad and I’m very hurt behind this.”
We spoke with a source close to the principal who stated,
"Belaire High School has worked tirelessly to ensure that the school's image has been wiped clean. The principal Mrs. Angela Jones was unaware that there were any issues outside. Once she learned of what happened , she halted graduation to allow people time to get to their seats. It is unfortunate that community members without tickets caused those with tickets to miss such a monumental occasion and that is deeply regretted."
Many graduates received messages from their family members stating that they could not get in the ceremony because BRCC personnel had locked the doors.This prompted many students to walk out of the building since their families were still outside. Sheriffs deputies on the scene said ticketing was going fine however, there was a group of people who tried to rush the door which led to admission being halted.
BRCC released a statement on tonight's incident.
"Graduation is a special time for families and friends and we sincerely regret that the entry and exit of the building had to be restricted by the East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff’s Office for crowd control issues. When having events of this size, we yield to the authority of the Sheriff’s Office and follow their directives to ensure the safety of all individuals present. To gain control of the unruly crowd, the Sheriff’s Department determined that it was best to restrict the flow of movement in and out of the building until they regained control.
Upon regaining control of the crowd, the EBR Sheriff’s Office allowed individuals to enter and exit the facility again."
The East Baton Rouge Parish School System also released a statement expressing regret for the graduation chaos. "
The East Baton Rouge Parish School System and Belaire High School express sincere regret and apologies to our students and their loved ones. In order to ensure safety, the facility management staff at BRCC temporarily delayed families and EBR staff from entering the building. Students work extremely hard to achieve this milestone and in spite of the events that transpired tonight, we would like to celebrate their accomplishments as a family and a community.
Parents have complained for months about the tickets. Graduates were given ten tickets to give to family and friends. Some were upset that their children could not participate in such a joyous occasion.
There were a few irate parents who told brproud.com that they were notified on Wednesday that their child would not be allowed to march. It is alleged that state test results had not been returned in a timely manner and that the students would receive their diplomas at a later date.
This is a developing story and we will continue to update as details are made available.