A Georgia principal catching hell over racist comments she made at a graduation ceremony offered one explanation: The devil made her do it.
Nancy Gordeuk, founder of TNT Academy in Stone Mountain, was captured on camera Friday trying to get the crowd to listen to the valedictorian, who she skipped during the program and who spoke at the end of the ceremony.
But when the audience begins to file out, Gordeuk, who is white, says: “You people are being so rude, to not listen to this speech. It was my fault that we missed it in the program.”
Amid the hubbub, Gordeuk ranted, “Look who’s leaving—all the black people.”
Shortly after videos of the event went viral, Gordeuk apologized in an email to parents.
“A terrible mistake on my part of the graduation ceremony on Friday night,” Gordeuk wrote, according to WXIA in Atlanta. “The devil was in the house and came out from my mouth. I deeply apologize for my racist comment and hope that forgiveness in in your hearts.”
But parents weren’t buying her excuse.
“She needs to get out of that field of being a teacher or a motivator. She doesn’t need to be in that field at all,” one mother, Shakel Forman, told WXIA.
Another angry mom told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the school’s 48 graduates had to pay up to $300 for the graduation ceremony, held at a local church, and which students say was ruined by Gordeuk.
One attendee, Brooklyn Jacobs, said she began filming the incident because of Gordeuk’s comments leading up to the explosive remarks. Minutes before, Gordeuk lashed out at one man in the crowd for taking photos, calling him a “goober” and a “coward” in front of the audience.
“We were just trying to get her being rude. It was something un-normal like you don’t see that on a regular basis,” Jacobs told WSB-TV.
“She named only black people. She didn’t say, ‘Oh, look at the Caucasians leaving, look at the Indians leaving.’ She said blacks,” Jacobs fumed.
Gordeuk told a WSB-TV reporter she’s not racist—she was just frustrated that the valedictorian’s speech was ignored after she had forgotten to introduce the student.
“So I introduced him, he started speaking, then a man, he was black, came across carrying his tablet back and forth filming the students in front,” Gordeuk told the TV station, adding that she called security on the shutterbug.
“Who I saw leaving were black people so that’s where the statement came from, ‘Look who’s leaving, all the black people.’”
A man believed to be Gordeuk’s son took to Facebook on Saturday to defend his embattled mom—or at least play devil’s advocate.
“If anyone has somthing [sic] to say about my mom and how she ran her graduation come say it to my face,” he wrote and added a Georgia address.
“What was rude wad somone [sic] standing up during the ceremony and walking around with a tablet …. my moma not racist one bit she’s done nothing but help kids so yall need to get stories straight,” Travis Gordeuk added.
On social media, commenters are calling for Gordeuk’s resignation and questioning how she could be an educator in the first place.
Gordeuk founded TNT Academy as a “non-traditional educational center” for middle- and high-schoolers, according to the private school’s website. It provides independent studies for students to earn their diplomas.
The principal has taught for 34 years, according to the website, including at private and Christian schools.
“I decided to form TNT Academy for those students that need a one-on-one or small group setting,” Gordeuk wrote on the school website. “TNT captures the needs of public school students that are bored in a classroom and are starting to get into trouble.”