By David Beasley
ATLANTA (Reuters) - The principal of a private school in suburban Atlanta has been fired after making remarks she admitted were racially insensitive during a graduation ceremony last week, a civil rights group said on Thursday.
Nancy Gordeuk, who is white, was passing out diplomas to graduates of TNT Academy in Stone Mountain, Georgia, when she realized she had forgotten to recognize the valedictorian, according to a video of the ceremony posted online.
As the valedictorian began speaking, members of the audience were seen walking out of the event and Gordeuk can be heard saying: ”Look who’s leaving, all the black people.”
The Georgia National Association for the Advancement of Colored People released a letter on Thursday from the school’s board chairman that said the principal had been dismissed “in light of recent events.”
"The NAACP would defend Mrs. Gordeuk's right as a private citizen to free speech,” said Francys Johnson, the state chapter president. "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."
The school did not return a phone call seeking comment.
Gordeuk founded TNT Academy, which was designed for students who need “a one-on-one or small group setting," according to the school's website.
In a letter to parents, she said she let frustration over other behavior she had considered disrespectful during the ceremony get the better of her.
"The devil was in the house and came out from my mouth," she wrote in a letter quoted by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. "I deeply apologize for my racist comment and hope that forgiveness (is) in your hearts."
(Editing by Colleen Jenkins and Peter Cooney)