UPrep founder Joseph Munno, who resigned after controversy arose over the decision to block last year’s valedictorian from making a graduation speech, is filing a lawsuit against the City of Rochester, Mayor Lovely Warren, and UPrep over the incident.
In July, after he was denied by UPrep, Mayor Lovely Warren allowed Jaisaan Lovett the chance to give his speech on the city’s YouTube channel.
Munno faced national scrutiny in the aftermath as the decision sparked a racial debate. No one ever fully explained why Lovett was blocked from giving the speech, with the school citing confidentiality reasons.
Munno retired days after the mayor posted the YouTube video.
In the lawsuit, Munno is suing over defamation and tortious interference with a contract, his attorney tells News 8.
News 8 has reached out to the UPrep board of trustees president and the city for reaction. The city confirmed they have received the notice of claim but said they couldn’t comment due to pending litigation.
Here is a statment from Munno’s attorney:
“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.
Paul A. Guerrieri, Esq.”
We reached out to UPrep’s board of trustees president, Edward Yansen, but did not receive a call back.