ROCHESTER, N.Y. — The Board of Trustees of the University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men says it has accepted the retirement of the school's president after a controversy surrounding the school's graduation.
President Joseph Munno, who founded the school in 2010, submitted his resignation following his decision to not let the school's 2018 valedictorian give a speech at the June 22 graduation ceremony.
Jaisaan Lovett is the school's first African American valedictorian. He's headed to Clark Atlanta University in the fall.
Munno says Lovett was asked if he wanted to give a speech at graduation weeks before the ceremony, but he declined the opportunity. Munno along with several other employees at the school also tell us that Lovett changed his mind about giving a speech right before graduation day. They say Lovett also was asked to give them a copy of his valedictorian speech and he failed to do so.
Lovett has also been working as an intern in the office of Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren. The mayor allowed Lovett to deliver his speech on the city's YouTube Page.
"I am here as the 2018 U-Prep valedictorian to tell you that you couldn't break me. I'm still here. I'm still here strong, and after all these years, after all this anger I had toward you and U-Prep as a whole, I realize that I have to let that go in order to better myself," Lovett said. "And I forgive you for everything I held against you. And on that note, I'm going to let you enjoy this graduation and thank you all for listening."
"If we don't stand up for children, then we don't stand for much. The future which we hold in trust for our own children will be shaped by our fairness to other people's children," said Warren.
Lovett says he believes Munno's decision was based on previous animosity between the two.
Munno did not want to go on camera but said he has received hundreds of death threats to his email and voicemail. He said he returned a call to the mayor and no one called him back. He also added that Warren never came to U-Prep to discuss the situation before releasing the video.
U-Prep is now conducting a nationwide search for a new president. Over the past four years, U-Prep has had a 90 percent graduation rate.