A Georgia school official has been fired over a disparaging comment she made about “black people” at a Friday graduation ceremony.
Nancy Gordeuk, founder of TNT Academy in Stone Mountain, was ousted from her role as principal of the private school after the school’s board of directors voted to fire her, local news station WXIA reported Thursday.
Gordeuk accidentally dismissed the crowd before the class valedictorian spoke, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. After correcting her mistake, she went on a tirade about people leaving the ceremony early anyway.
“You people are being so rude to not listen to this speech,” Gordeuk, who is white, was caught on camera saying. “It was my fault that we missed it in the program. Look who’s leaving! All the black people!”
Gasps and cries of disbelief can be heard in the background on the video. In response to the comment, many people got up and left the ceremony.
Gordeuk later told NBC News she didn’t mean to be racist. “When I looked up, all I saw was black families leaving, and thus the comment,” she said. “I didn’t know ‘black people’ was a racist term.”
WXIA reports that she later sent out an apology email to parents. “The devil was in the house and came out from my mouth,” she wrote. “I deeply apologize for my racist comment and hope that forgiveness is in your hearts.”
WXIA also published an excerpt on Monday from a letter that Dr. Heidi Anderson, that chair of the TNT Academy board of directors, sent to the Gwinnett County NAACP to announce that Gordeuk had been fired. The letter reads:
In light of recent events, the board of directors of TNT Academy has moved to dismiss Nancy Gordeuk as principal. During the coming transition, we will continue to prioritize support for our most recent graduates. Moreover, we will continue our commitment to providing students with the best educational classes, transcription services, and academic credit recovery possible.
Jada Gibson, who was at the ceremony watching her cousin graduate, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Gordeuk made rude remarks throughout the ceremony, including saying that the mouth of a crying baby should be taped shut.