Relatives turned away at HISD high school graduation after reaching capacity

HOUSTON – A day of celebration turned into a disaster for families as they were turned away at a Houston Independent School District high school graduation after the building reached its capacity.

North Forest High School seniors had their graduation at the Mark Anthony Wilkins Pavilion on Tidwell Road on Saturday.

But the auditorium wasn't large enough to accommodate the viewing crowd.

Davonte Milton and his family of three were turned away. Milton said he arrived at 6:05 p.m. for the 6 p.m. event and missed his nephew walking across the stage after being told the auditorium was too full.

"It feels pretty bad. You only get one time to see someone graduate and walk past the stage like that, you know?" Milton said.

The Houston Fire Department said the fire marshal had turned people away for their own safety.

"They even were turning away people in wheelchairs," Tangeaul Smith said.

The auditorium quickly reached capacity and allowing more people to come inside would have been a fire hazard, officials said.

Smith said she was able to see her niece graduate, but sympathizes with those who didn't get that opportunity.

"It was packed inside. Maybe 20 seats left, but they should have made accommodations. Do something different because people have waited for this moment all their children and grandchildren's life," Smith said. "They should have done something different."

The school district said no tickets were handed out to graduates for their guests and it was first come, first serve.

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