A University Prep Charter School valedictorian has been denied the opportunity to give his valedictory speech at graduation, and nobody seems to know why.
Rochester Mayor Lovely Warren says neither Jaisaan Lovett or his mother were told why he couldn’t give the speech. When Nexstar contributors WROC reached out to UPrep President Joe Munno, we were told, “It’s a school matter and this is confidential.”
Munno added, “It was a decision that was made by the school.”
Even Mayor Warren says can’t get an explanation.
“For some reason, his school, in a country where freedom of speech is a constitutional right, in the City of Frederick Douglass, turned his moment of triumph into a time of sorrow and pain,” Mayor Warren said in a YouTube video where she allowed Jaisaan to give his speech.
Speaking with WROC, Jaisaan said he went to the head administrator of the school with a prepared speech, but they didn’t want it.
“He didn’t ask to look it. He didn’t ask to see it. He just said no,” Jaisaan said.
Lovett and his mother say they never received an explanation, but believe the reason may be because Jaisaan and Munno didn’t see eye to eye.
“We knocked heads a lot,” Jaisaan said.
Regardless of what the issue may have been, Mayor Warren’s office told WROC in a statement:
“Jaisaan interned with us in the Mayor’s office, and it was there Mayor Lovely Warren learned of the situation. Jaisaan is a hard working young man with great potential, and his high school graduation is just one step in what we have no doubt will be a successful journey. His high school graduation is a moment he will never get back, so it was important to Mayor Warren that he get the credit he was due, and be rewarded for his hard work.”
UPDATE (June 4, 10 a.m.): In Facebook post, UPrep officials responded to the controversy surrounding the decision by writing the following:
From the UPrep Board of Trustees: We are aware of the concern with the Valedictorian not speaking at graduation. The Board will be reviewing the circumstances regarding what happened and looking into the related guidelines and school policies. For confidentiality reasons, the school isn’t able to speak about the specifics of this situation. However, the school did try to connect with the Mayor’s Office and the school’s call was not returned. UPrep wishes Jaision Lovett, the first black Valedictorian in the school’s four year graduation history, much success as he continues his education at Clark Atlanta University.