One arrested, others furious after Desert Mirage HS graduation

THERMAL, Calif. - A 19-year-old woman was arrested and dozens others were furious after they were kept out of the Desert Mirage high school graduation ceremony.  

The graduation began at 7 P.M. on Wednesday. Several parents told us they were kept out of the ceremony because security said the football stadium was at capacity.

"We were about to get in when it seemed to had gotten full, so we had to haggle back and forth with security, until they had a meeting and finally let us get in," said Ramiro Velazquez, a parent of a graduating senior. "There were a lot of people behind us trying to get in also. I don't know how many people got in, but we were just lucky to get in." 

Velazquez's son, Carlos, told us there were about 380 graduating seniors in the class. He says each student is given 10 tickets for family and friends to attend the ceremony, and the capacity of the stadium is 3,800.  

The Coachella Valley Unified School District said additional tickets are sold for $5 to help offset the price of the graduation ceremony. Velazquez said many extra tickets were sold which contributed to the capacity crowd. 

Coachella Valley Unified School District superintendent Dr. Darryl Adams told News Channel 3/CBS Local 2, the issue stemmed from someone selling counterfeit tickets to the graduation. Adams said he believes the fake tickets created the capacity crowd. He also said he believes the sheriff's department arrested the person responsible for the counterfeit tickets.  

"Maybe we'll have to move to a bracelet ticket, like they use at the Coachella festival," Adams said over the phone. 

According to the Riverside County Sheriff's Department, a deputy approached a woman who was blocking the front entrance.  The police report says the woman refused to move and during the exchange, assaulted the deputy.  

Deputies arrested 19-year-old Marina Barragon on suspicion of battery on a peace officer and resisting arrest. The deputy was not injured.  Barragon's sister told News Channel 3/CBS Local 2, she was trying to help interpret the officer's orders to the Spanish speakers in the line who were trying to get into the ceremony. 

The situation at graduation underscores ongoing issues at Desert Mirage.  In May, students held a sit-in to express frustrations with a change in schedule for next year and teacher layoffs. Dr. Adams met with parents who were also frustrated with issues like graduation rates and other layoffs.  

Stay with News Channel 3 and CBS Local 2 for all the latest on this story. 

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