Families denied entry to Reedley graduation

Five families miss Kings Canyon High School graduation due to security issue, prompting Kings Canyon Unified School District to apologize and take corrective action

Kings Canyon Unified School District water feature as you enter the lobby. (Kenny Goodman)
Karis Caddell
Published June 8, 2024  • 
9:00 am

REEDLEY – Several families were locked out of a high school graduation ceremony in Reedley due to some confusion amongst the security. Now, Kings Canyon Unified School District is trying to make it up to the five families who missed the ceremony.

On June 4, the Kings Canyon High School, Kings Canyon Adult School and Mountain View School were celebrating this year’s graduating seniors with family, friends and fellow students. However, not all of the students’ families were able to be in attendance due to the school district shutting the gates to the event as soon as the ceremony started.

According to KCUSD, there were five families affected by the incident and about 20-25 people who were stuck outside the ceremony. One affected community member, Reynosa Vanessa Paola, spoke with news outlet KMPH on the matter and took it to her Facebook to express her disappointment with the situation.

“This district ruined such a special moment for families and seniors. It didn’t even matter if you had a ticket, you were not allowed entrance,” Paola wrote on her Facebook page. “Their tickets don’t even say anything about gates closing at a certain time. Worst district ever, they don’t care about the students and this is evidence of them showing it.”

A representative with the school district noted that they are trying to reach out to all of those who were affected to do whatever they can to make the situation right.

“We met with the family today – the family that had reached out to the news – and we had a great conversation with them,” KCUSD Communications Director Alisha Gallon said. “Obviously, we can’t make the graduation happen again. We can’t go backwards. But we want them to know that we apologize for what happened and it shouldn’t have happened.”

Gallon explained the security team the school district used this year had not been used for graduations in the past, and were not aware of the policies for graduations. This is why the security team shut the gate at 8 p.m. when the ceremony started and would not let families who showed up late enter even with a ticket.

“We have spoken with the staff that was at the graduation, and we’ll be speaking to security staff and other staff before graduations next year to make sure that they understand that that’s not something that we want to happen again,” Gallon said.

KCUSD also released a written statement on the issue to explain the situation.

“This has not been our practice in the past and was done without knowledge or input from senior administrators who were all on the graduation stage at the time. Kings Canyon unified management accepts responsibility for this error and apologizes to any affected parties,” KCUSD stated in the written statement.

The majority of the 225 students graduating this year were from the adult school while 40 of them were from Kings Canyon High School.

After this year, Gallon wants families to be assured that the school district is committed to making sure this does not happen again.

“This is a celebration that our Kings Canyon Unified administration all looks forward to as well because of the great effort that the students have put into getting where they are, to getting to graduation and so it is going to be certain that this doesn’t happen again,” Gallon said.

Karis Caddell