An apology was issued by the director of an alternative school in Georgia after videos of her making a racially charged comment during a graduation ceremony on Friday flooded social media.
The video, posted by several attendees of the ceremony, shows Nancy Gordeuk, director of TNT Academy in Stone Mountain, reproving students walking out of the First Baptist Church in Liburn, Ga., which served as the venue of the event, before the class valedictorian could make his speech.
It was when she asked the students to return into the auditorium, the students didn’t pay heed to her orders. She then made the comment, “Look who’s leaving… All the black people!”
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Several students started shouting in protest against the statement, while many others began exiting.
According to USA Today, one of the graduates, Donte Lambert, said, “She forgot the final speech. So she dismissed us all at first.
“Then she told everyone to come back. One parent got mad and he told his child to come on.”
Gordeuk told NBC affiliate 11Alive that an unknown man had approached the front of the auditorium and started filming the ceremony, which irritated her. She asked the individual to stop as the valedictorian was going to start with his speech.
When the individual didn’t comply with her request, she called the police to remove him from the ceremony.
Shakel Forman, Lambert’s mother, said, “Once the police came in, everybody was kinda thrown off for her even asking for the actual police to come in to remove him, so the crowd was already agitated.
“It wasn’t that serious.”
Gordeuk’s comment that sparked rebuke among the audience came after the police arrived to escort the individual out of the auditorium.
“When I looked up all I saw was black families leaving, and thus the comment,” Gordeuk told NBC News.
She issued an apology in a statement, saying, “A terrible mistake on my part was part of the graduation ceremony on Friday night. 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. 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.”
However, she also maintained that her comment was not racially provocative.
“I do not think I have discriminated against any family in the school. I just pray you will realize I am a human and make mistakes just like everyone else does and be willing to forgive and move forward instead of concentrating on the bad of the situation,” her statement read.
Forman criticized Gordeuk for the comment, saying she shouldn’t be teaching.
“She doesn’t need to be in that field at all,” Forman said.
TNT Academy, a nontraditional education center, offers independent study for 7th to 12th grade students, in addition to providing credit recovery for students who flunked a class at their regular schools.
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