Rochester, N.Y. - The founder and former president of the University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men has filed a notice of claim against Rochester's mayor.
Because of the pending litigation, the city did not comment on the notice brought by Joseph Munno, further than acknowledging it had received the notice of claim.
Munno retired from his position in July of last year. That came after the school's valedictorian said he was denied the opportunity of giving a speech at the school's graduation ceremony.
After he had been reportedly denied the chance to speak, the Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren gave Jaisaan Lovett the opportunity to deliver an address of his own at City Hall. The video was later uploaded to YouTube.
The notice of claim specifically refers to a press briefing on July 2, 2018, "where the mayor gave a 2 1/2 minute speech falsely accusing (Munno) of denying a student the honor of giving a valedictorian speech at the 2018 UPREP graduation ceremony."
The notice continues, "Upon information and belief, the media event was designed and organized to gain national attention and international coverage, and the lies and innuendo were spread throughout the local community, nationally and internationally."
The full notice of claim can be read here:
A statement from Mr. Munno's attorney, Paul Guerrieri, reads as follows:
Unfortunately, it appears Mayor Warren, for political gain, slandered the good name and reputation of an educator who had a flawless reputation in our community and was a mentor and built a formidable educational institution to help a segment of our community suffering from minimal educational opportunities. She assassinated the character of a man who devoted his entire life to the causes of educational improvement for inner-city youth. Her political actions cost Joseph Munno his job.
But what is most upsetting is the practice of politicians politicizing race to shore up their base. We all know this divisive practice, and it should be roundly condemned by all. Our elected officials should bring the community together, not tear it apart promoting what ultimately will result in racial mistrust and hatred. Mayor Warren made it a point, using her position as Mayor and our City Hall, to express views that were untruthful about UPREP denying its first African American valedictorian the honor of speaking at graduation. This was a horrendous choice made by the Mayor because it ruined the lifetime work of an honorable citizen in our community and it needlessly created a community uproar about a situation that was not racially motivated. Needless to say, the actions of our Mayor in this instance were very disappointing.