The director at a small private school in Georgia who was accused of using racist language during a graduation ceremony last Friday has now been fired after cellphone footage of the incident went viral.
Any high school graduation is supposed to be a moment of celebration and dwelling in the light of a great accomplishment, but for one graduating class the day was tarnished by a school director’s offensive comments.
Tensions at the ceremony were already running high, according to Nancy Gordeuk, who was the school’s director. She insists that she was already irritated that a student got out of a seat and approached the stage to record the ceremony.
But that’s not what fueled her racially charged tirade.
Gordeuk accidentally released the graduating class before the valedictorian had a chance to give a speech. By the time she realized the blunder, it was far too late to gather the crowd back together.
Parents had already met up with their graduates and were making their way out the door when Gordeuk, in a clearly irritated tone, began demanding that they come back and have a seat for the speech.
“She forgot about the final speech,” one of the graduates told The Associated Press. “So she dismissed us all at first. Then she told everyone to come back. One parent got mad and told his child to come on.”
As some parents continued filing out of the room, Gordeuk is heard on camera saying, “You people are so rude to not listen to this speech. It was my fault we missed it in the program. Look who’s leaving — all the Black people.”
The statement was punctuated with gasps, loud grunts, parents standing to their feet, students walking off the stage and a general state of unrest filling the room.
One video captures one parent expressing how rude Gordeuk has been before asking if someone caught the incident on camera.
The camera person assured that every last bit of the incident was indeed recorded.
That evidence has paid off.
“In light of recent events, the board of directors of TNT Academy has moved to dismiss Nancy Gordeuk as principal,” the letter said, according to USA Today. “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.”
Gordeuk insisted that she was not racist for making the comment and instead suggested that it was all the work of the devil.
“The devil was in the house and came out from my mouth,” she said in an email to the parents. “I deeply apologize for my racist comment and hope that forgiveness is in your hearts.”
It’s a comment that didn’t sit right with Georgia NAACP President Francys Johnson.
“Beyond the inappropriate remarks, the former principal attempted to legitimize the bizarre episode by claiming ‘the devil made her do it,’ ” Johnson said in an emailed statement. “This is not just about Mrs. Gordeuk’s comments. The NAACP would defend Mrs. Gordeuk’s right as a private citizen to free speech. However, those entrusted with responsibility for our children must set a high standard marked by civility. That is obviously a test the former principal failed.”