A Georgia principal has apologized for making racially charged remarks at her school’s graduation ceremony.
Nancy Gordeuk, founder and principal of TNT Academy in Stone Mountain, Ga., shocked those in attendance at Friday’s commencement when she chastised some for leaving early by saying, “Look who’s leaving, all the black people.”
The comments, captured on cellphone video, sparked immediate outrage at the ceremony, as dozens of students and parents erupted, leaving in protest. The footage quickly circulated on social media, with some calling for Gordeuk’s resignation.
“A terrible mistake on my part of the graduation ceremony on Friday night,” Gordeuk wrote in an email to parents published by WXIA-TV. “The devil was in the house and came out from my mouth. I deeply apologize for my racist comment and hope that forgiveness [is] in your hearts. We all make mistakes, and anyone who knows me realizes that I try my hardest to work with the students for them to obtain their goal of a high school diploma.”
Donte Lambert, a graduating student who was in attendance, told the NBC affiliate that Gordeuk had inadvertently dismissed the students before the valedictorian’s speech.
“She forgot the final speech,” Lambert said. “So she dismissed us all at first. Then she told everyone to come back.”
Gordeuk said the crowd then became “disruptive” and rude.
“When I looked up, all I saw was black families leaving, and thus the comment,” Gordeuk told NBC News.
“It was not a statement of racism,” a tearful Gordeuk told KABC-TV. “It was just my frustration.”
Lambert’s mother, Shakel Forman, was unmoved.
“She needs to get out of that field of being a teacher or a motivator,” Forman told WXIA-TV. “She doesn’t need to be in that field at all.”
According to the school’s website, Gordeuk decided to form TNT Academy as a “non-traditional educational center” to meet “the needs of those students that do not like to listen to lectures, but like some hands-on labs and learning.”
“TNT captures the needs of public school students that are bored in a classroom and are starting to get into trouble,” a message on the school’s website reads.