Channel 2's Tony Thomas reports

Principal ‘released’ after ‘black people’ graduation comment

The principal of TNT Academy has been let go from the Stone Mountain school less than a week after video of her racially charged comment at a graduation ceremony went viral.

Georgia NAACP president Francys Johnson confirmed to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that Nancy Gordeuk “has been released.”

In an email sent to the NAACP, TNT Academy board of directors chair Heidi Anderson wrote the board had moved to dismiss Gordeuk, who previously said “the devil was in the house and came out from my mouth” when she made a controversial remark about black people leaving Friday’s graduation ceremony.

“In light of recent events, the board of directors of TNT Academy has moved to dismiss Nancy Gordeuk as principal,” Anderson said in the email, which the state NAACP sent to The AJC. “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.”

The Georgia NAACP released a statement late Thursday morning applauding the TNT Academy board’s action.

“Beyond the inappropriate remarks,” Johnson said in the statement, “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.”

Johnson went on to say that 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.”

Gordeuk, who is white, provoked anger and drew national attention after the comment she made at the graduation ceremony was recorded and widely circulated through social media.

“You people are being so rude to not listen to this speech,” Gordeuk told the audience, according to video recordings of the ceremony posted on social media. “It was my fault that we missed it in the program. Look who’s leaving — all the black people.”

Gordeuk said she made the comments when she became frustrated with people who took pictures of the ceremony while it was in progress, which she felt was a distraction and disrespectful.

In an email to parents and students of TNT Academy, Gordeuk wrote: “An unknown man at the beginning of a speech decided to walk up to the front of the audience with his tablet, videotaping the audience and the students causing disruption to the audience and disrespect to the ceremony and its participants. When disregarding the request to please sit down, the security was asked to remove the man. At that point, booing of the request commenced.

“Frustrated with the prospect of ruining the once-in-a-lifetime ceremony the graduates have worked so hard for, my emotions got the best of me and that is when I blurted out ‘you people are being so rude to not listen to this speech (valedictorian).’ It was my fault that we missed the speech in the program. I look to the left where the man was and all I saw was a mass of people leaving and I said, ‘Look who’s leaving, all the black people.’ At that point, members of the audience began to leave.”

TNT Academy is a non-traditional, private education center. It offers classes and independent study for seventh- through 12th-graders and provides credit recovery for public school students who have failed a class at their regular school. The school is accredited through the Georgia Accrediting Commission.

In addition to serving as principal, Gordeuk is the founder of TNT Academy, according to the school’s website. It was unclear how Thursday’s announcement would impact Gordeuk’s ownership of the school. Anderson, the chair of the board of directors, could not be reached for comment.

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