A Georgia educator who was caught on camera calling out “all the black people” for leaving a graduation ceremony during the valedictorian’s speech has been fired.
“‘In light of recent events, the board of directors of TNT Academy has moved to dismiss Nancy Gordeuk as principal,” says a letter obtained by CNN.
Heidi Anderson, chairwoman of the board of directors at TNT Academy in Stone Mountain, signed the letter before sending it to the Gwinnett County chapter of the NAACP, which had called for Gordeuk’s termination.
Gordeuk came under fire after being caught on video scolding attendees of Friday’s ceremony who she said were disruptive, saying into a microphone, “You people are being so rude, to not listen to this speech. … Look who’s leaving … all the black people.”
The remark prompted cries from the audience as graduates stormed off the stage and the valedictorian shrank from the podium. The video spread across social media over the weekend, bringing calls for Gordeuk to lose her job.
After the uproar began, Gordeuk apologized, saying, “my emotions got the best of me.”
“I deeply apologize for my actions made in the emotional state of trying to let this last student finish his speech. I take a personal interest in the success of every student that comes through our doors without regard to their race, religion or ethnicity,” she wrote in an email to CNN.
But the Georgia NAACP said it applauds the academy’s decision to terminate Gordeuk’s employment, saying in a statement, “Beyond the inappropriate remarks, the former principal attempted to legitimize the bizarre episode by claiming ‘the devil made her do it.’ The Flip Wilson defense may have worked for a comedian, but not a chief educational official charged with the overall day-to-day management of academic and school operations.”
Attempts to reach Gordeuk for comment were unsuccessful Thursday.
Several people who were in attendance at the ceremony said Gordeuk created a hostile environment long before the offending remark.
Suzette Walden Cole, who traveled from Colorado to see her nephew graduate, remembers Gordeuk giving a warning to parents of small children, telling them, “If you have babies, you either need to tape their mouths shut or get them out of here.”
Gordeuk also apparently offered commentary as each student received a diploma, attendees said. Some of it was complimentary, Cole said, recalling statements like, “this guy was one of the hardest workers I know” or “we’re going to see her name in lights some day in the future.”
But for many of the non-white students, Cole remembers Gordeuk making derisive comments about their academic struggles.
The TNT Academy website describes the school as a college preparatory program that provides credits for a high school diploma through independent study and teacher-assisted instruction. The website says it has been approved by the Georgia Accrediting Commission, the Chancellor’s Office of the University of Georgia and the Georgia HOPE scholarship program for non-traditional study centers.