Kershaw Co., SC (WLTX) - What would have normally been a joyful occasion for family and friends of some Kershaw County high school graduates was more frustrating than anything after they were not allowed into the ceremony for being late.
Dozens of parents, family and friends of graduating Lugoff-Elgin High School students are mad after being locked out of the graduation ceremony for being late.
"I have parents who came from at least 50 miles away to see their grandson graduate," said mother Anika Turner.
The ceremony was set to start at 9 Saturday morning at the school's football stadium, but Godparent Robert Stone says just before nine, "They had chains around the fence. They actually had the gates locked! I've never been to a graduation where they actually lock you out."
"This is a once in a lifetime opportunity," said Turner. "Someone to deny you seeing your son graduate?"
News19 spoke with the principal, Thomas Gladden, who said, "I had a meeting with all of the seniors. They were given four pages of instructions that stressed the time of the graduation ceremony."
Mary Anne Byrd, the director of communications for the district told News19 the school has always been strict about the "on time" policy saying, "It has been like this for years - 9am is 9am. It's a fact."
But parents who missed the ceremony think school officials took their policy way too far.
"It could have been a situation where they couldn't get there on time or something like that," Turner said. "He could have at least allowed a time where parents could come in if they are locked outside."
Stone agrees, "We as parents and Godparents, I mean, that's a special occasion. You know? When your child graduates from high school you're never gonna get that again. And the only thing we were trying to do was get in to see my god son graduate from high school."
The principal said the gates were locked at 9:02am so late comers wouldn't distract others. Gladden also said late comers were given the option to sit in the school's auditorium to watch a live stream on television.