Families claim they were turned away from graduation | News – Home

I know this is from June, but it’s still quite relevant given past posts regarding event planning and capacity management.

This story on click2houston.com (KPRC-TV) is about a graduation gone wrong. Some families traveled from out-of-state only to be denied entry due to a lack of capacity, leaving between 200 and 300 standing outside not able to see anything.

It’s an unfortunate situation for everyone. It’s hard for me to fault HISD’s security personnel here, as their job is simply to keep the event safe and to make sure the school district is not legally liable for a fire code violation. I would think based on this rather bare-bones story that the likely cause was a lack of an RSVP system so the district would know what size venue was required to accommodate the crowd.

Priority should have been given to those who came from longer distances. If nothing else, an overflow room with a live video feed could have been made available at another of the Reliant Park venues. (I went to a church some years ago–this was during an earlier part of my life when I was still a Christian–where they piped in video of the service to an overflow room. Technically, this should be possible in 2013 especially if it was possible in the mid- to late 1990s.)

In a larger sense, this underscores the importance of sizing the venue to the expected crowd. I know of at least one university graduation that required tickets for admission to the venue. Was that workable in this case? Would it have still left some people out? Maybe. But I personally would rather family members coming from hundreds of miles away know not to bother making the trip weeks in advance than being turned away at the door.