By Dillon Thomas


UPDATE: After this article was published, Victory Preparatory Academy in Commerce City canceled this year’s graduation ceremony, citing security concerns. Read the full story.

COMMERCE CITY, Colo. (CBS4) – Citing safety concerns amid “incomprehensible acts of catastrophic violence involving schools,” a Colorado high school decided to strictly limit who can attend their upcoming graduation. Victory Preparatory Academy school officials notified parents last week only family members previously-known to the school would be allowed to attend the May 18 graduation.

(credit: CBS)

Those contacts previously approved through the school were asked to pick up access badges for the graduation in advance, according to the letter obtained by CBS4. Anyone not on the pre-approved list of attendees would not be permitted access to the graduation.

For some families, that meant extended family planning to attend graduation for a long time will not be able to access the event to see their loved on graduate.

Elivia Mendez (credit: CBS)

Through a translator, Elivia Mendez told CBS4 the school has caused emotional distress for her family by implementing the restrictions. A single mother, Mendez said her eldest daughter is not allowed to attend her sister’s graduation, as she was not on the pre-approved list.

“As a single mom, I want to enjoy it with my daughters,” Mendez told CBS4’s Dillon Thomas.

(credit: Mendez family)

Mendez said her 17-year-old is a first-generation high school graduate, and the school was prohibiting other siblings from witnessing such an accomplishment.

“My (teenage) daughter is really sad right now,” Mendez said. “(My kids) cannot be together in this special moment. It is a big moment for the family.”

CBS4 contacted the school multiple times for comment on the issue. Requests for comment, both secretary messages and voicemails, were not returned.

However, in the letter sent out to parents, Victory Prep Academy also cited safety concerns after suspicious vehicles were spotted in the parking lot. The letter said the school was working with Commerce City Police to secure the graduation.

“The Commerce City Police Department is committed to supporting Victory Preparatory Academy to provide a safe environment for all attendees. There have been no credible threats identified,” a statement from the department to CBS4 stated.

(credit: CBS)

Mendez said she appreciated the school taking extra concern for student safety. However, she felt the ban on non-previously approved attendees was excessive.

“I totally understand the process of the security. But, why are they limiting the family?” Mendez asked. “I’m not asking for extra tickets for the neighbor, for the cousins, for the friends. No, it is for my own daughter.”

Dillon Thomas

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