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UPrep President retires after controversy over valedictorian speech

Jul 9, 2018

JaisaanLovett delivering his valedictorian speech on Rochester's YouTube channel
Credit City of Rochester/YouTube

The president of a charter school in Rochester who has been part of a story that gained national attention after the school’s valedictorian wasn’t allow to speak at graduation has left that school.

A statement released Monday from University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men says it has accepted the retirement of the school’s president, Joseph Munno.

“It is the Board’s responsibility to put the best interests of the school and its students at the forefront,” said 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.”

The statement from UPrep also says that in the wake of the “highly publicized graduation-day decision, board members noted disappointment that resulting negative attention has distracted from the significant accomplishments of the school during its eight years of operation. “

The Democrat&Chronicle reported last week that Jaisaan Lovett, the valedictorian was not allowed to deliver his speech, but Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren let him make the speech on the city’s YouTube channel. In that speech, Lovett talked about being the first African-American valedictorian in UPrep’s history, and he hopes there will be many more after him.

Lovett delivered a message to Munno, saying that, “I’m here as the UPrep 2018 valedictorian to tell you that you couldn’t break me. I’m still here, and I’m still here strong.” Lovett said that, “…all this anger I’ve had toward you (Munno) and UPrep as a whole, I realized that I had to let that go in order to better myself.”

The statement from UPrep says that since its first graduating class in 2015, the school has had consistent graduation rates exceeding the national average, with June 2018’s graduation achieving 96%.

Lovett will be attending Clark Atlanta University with a full scholarship.