STONE MOUNTAIN, Ga. – A small Atlanta-area private school is at the center of a national firestorm after the school's director made a racially charged statement.
During the graduation ceremony for TNT Academy Friday night, Nancy Gordeuk, the founder and director of the school, said, "Look who's leaving, all the black people!"
One of the graduates, Donte Lambert, said it all started when Gordeuk dismissed everyone early.
"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," Lambert said.
Gordeuk later apologized to the parents via email, saying she let her emotions get the best of her.
"A terrible mistake on my part of the graduation ceremony on Friday night," Gordeuk wrote. "The devil was in the house and came out from my mouth. I deeply apologize for my racist comment and hope that forgiveness is in your hearts." (READ HER FULL STATEMENT AT THE BOTTOM OF THE STORY)
"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," said Shakel Forman, Donte's mother.
The school is a private, non-traditional school founded for home-schoolers hoping to get an accredited degree.
The Georgia Accreditation Commission said in a statement that a teacher, parent or student must file a complaint in order for an investigation to begin.
11Alive stopped by Gordeuk's house on Saturday, but her husband said she was too emotionally drained to speak with us.
Gordeuk says she was frustrated in part because an unknown person walked to the front of the auditorium and began recording the graduation ceremony. After asking him to sit down, she later called security. She says she let her emotions get the best of her.
Many people in the audience recorded the video, which has since gone viral.
Lambert tells us he doesn't harbor any resentment. He's looking forward to moving on.
"I just want to think the positive side of it," Lambert said. "My family came out to support me and we made the best of the situation."
Gordeuk's full statement read:
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.
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.
To address the incident at the graduation ceremony of May 8. Please keep the facts in perspective. 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 o 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.
The facts are the rude booing from my perspective facing the audience condoning the actions of this man, are coming from the younger people in the audience. What if ten or twenty persons came and started videotaping the audience in the middle of a speech. Is that disrespect to the person trying to make his speech? Or does that mean everyone can just do as they please?
I sincerely apologize to all the persons in attendance at the ceremony for the actions of the few causing the disturbance and for my emotional, un-called generalization of the black persons in attendance. 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. My main concern for each is to provide them with an education and high school diploma to be able to continue on the pathway toward adulthood to become a successful member of society.
You will find many, many parents of all races, religions and ethnic groups that have been serviced by our school and are very appreciative of our efforts on the behalf of their students. This same group of students had the same support we have given to every other graduating class. It is very easy to judge someone, however, we all make mistakes, as we are only human.
Again, I deeply apologize for my offensive comment in the heat of my emotional state in trying to achieve respect for a student to be able to speak.