UPrep President retires following decision to prohibit valedictorian speech

Jaisaan Lovett was prohibited from giving a valedictorian speech at Uprep. (WHAM photo)

The President of the University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men (UPrep) has retired, following the decision to prohibit the school's valedictorian from giving a speech at the school's graduation ceremony.

The Board of Trustees accepted the retirement of Joseph Munno on Monday.

In a hastily-gathered news conference Monday morning, Mayor Lovely Warren spoke passionately about Jaisaan Lovett, the valedictorian of the Class of 2018. She said she cannot say what was behind the decisions for Lovett not to speak at graduation.

The school said it did not want Lovett to speak at its graduation ceremony.

Warren said she chose to speak publicly to recognize Lovett’s academic accomplishment. She says she did reach out to Munno and left a message, but says this is not about Munno. This is about Lovett, Warren said.

When asked about Lovett’s past of disciplinary issues, she said his past is irrelevant and that he should be able to speak at graduation.

"At the end of the day, this young man achieved great accomplishments in our community," Warren said. "And we highlight the negative things that young people do in this community. I believe we need to highlight the great things and the great opportunities that people do in our community."

"Let's not look at what went wrong here, Warren said. "Let's look at what went right. When I looked at Jaisaan after he could not give his valedectorian speech, he was broken and we put him back together."

“It is the Board’s responsibility to put the best interests of the school and its students at the forefront,” said Dr. Edward Yansen, president of UPrep’s Board of Trustees. “The Board of Trustees recognizes the role that Mr. Munno has played in helping establish the school and creating a robust educational experience for young men living in Rochester. Given the situation and considering the mission and values of UPrep, we have accepted his retirement, effective Monday, July 9th. We are initiating an immediate national search for new leadership.”

Board members said after the highly publicized decision to stop the valedictorian from his graduation speech, the negative attention distracted from the accomplishments of the school during its eight years of operation.

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