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Robeson County parents upset over number of tickets for high school graduation

The Change.org petition that is being circulated to attempt to make changes to the Purnell Swett High School graduation to allow for more attendees. (WPDE)

Dozens of parents of seniors at Purnell Swett High School in Robeson County are upset that the school is only issuing 2 tickets per senior for the graduation on June 10.

The parents said it's not fair to give just two tickets because they have several family members who won't be able to attend.

Tiesha Salmon called our newsroom to voice her concerns on the matter.

Salmon said she can't understand why the school won't hold the graduation ceremony at the football field to avoid issuing any tickets at all.

She said now her daughter has to grapple with which two people to invite.

"I was hurt. I was really really hurt. I felt let down a bit hurt for my child because she has to be the one to make the choice," said Salmon.

Helen McPhatter said her last grandchild is graduating and by the looks of it she won't be able to attend because she doesn't have a ticket.

"It's very important. Like I said this is my last grandchild. I want to see her march. I want to see her graduate like the rest of them. That hurts a lot of grandparents that they can't go," said McPhatter.

The parents said they've called the school and district administrators, but to no avail.

The parents are petitioning the Robeson County School Board through change.org to hold the graduation at the football stadium. (https://www.change.org/p/purnell-swett-high-school-graduation-2016)

Public Schools of Robeson County Public Relations Officer Tasha Oxendine issued the following statement on the matter:

"Purnell Swett has 441 graduates and they plan to give 2 tickets to each graduate for the ceremony at Graduation at Givens Performing Arts Center - GPAC. High school administrators are working with The University of North Carolina at Pembroke (UNCP) to create overflow into the University Center Annex for (1) additional guest to watch the graduation via a broadcast. (That is still being negotiated).

This year Purnell Swett has our largest graduating class of the seven high schools, but the graduation tickets are still in line with the other high schools with that class size."

Oxendine said Lumberton has 430 graduates and each graduate is given two tickets for the ceremony in the gymnasium and additional for overflow in the auditorium with video broadcast.

She said Red Springs High has 170 graduates with students getting 3 to 4 graduation tickets, but that number is not finalized. Their graduation is held at Robeson Community College

She added St. Pauls High has 199 graduates with 3 graduation tickets issued to each senior. Their graduation ceremony takes place at Givens Performing Arts Center.

Oxendine said historically the school district has not hosted graduations outside on the football stadium partly because of the uncertainty of weather.

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