Op/Ed By Michael Vaughn –
As I write my column this week, I realize the controversy I am speaking of may have already died down, so I may therefore be stirring the nest; however, I’d still like to provide my thoughts on the subject.
The matter I am referring to is the situation surrounding University Preparatory Charter School for Young Men, and its valedictorian, Jaisaan Lovett.
First of all, I do congratulate Jaissan for his achievement, and for receiving a full ride to Clark University in Atlanta!
This is quite an achievement, and I wish him well in his future endeavors.
But, the thoughts I want to share regarding UPrep’s initial decision not to let Jaisaan speak during the school’s commencement ceremony really have to do with Mayor Lovely Warren, and the way she handled the situation.
Out of the gate, the only thing we do know is that is that we do not know why the principal would not allow Jaisaan to give a speech at the graduation initially, since school officials chose not to release this information.
That is where my concern lies, relative to the mayor allowing Jaisaan to deliver his speech at City Hall, and then broadcasting it on the city’s official Youtube channel.
We, as a city, should not want our community leaders’ authority to be undermined, and we should hope that other leaders would stick with the official decisions our community leaders have made.
The mayor made a mistake when she allowed Jaisaan to give his graduation speech at City Hall, and when she shared the information supporting it.
I appreciate the mayor’s efforts, and I believe that she is doing the best she can for this city, according to the beliefs she holds dear.
Ultimately, I do not share many of her political beliefs, but I truly believe that she is a good person.
That is why I was surprised by the way she handled this situation.
Joseph Munno, the man who did not allow Jaisaan to speak, was not only the principal of UPrep, but also its founder.
He was instrumental in leading the academy to be the best-performing school Rochester.
Mayor Warren should have taken the fruits of Munno’s labor into consideration prior to hearing only one side of the story, and then proceeding to undermine his authority.
I am sure the mayor would not appreciate the same behavior from anyone in her administration.
In addition, I am sure that Mayor Warren neither expects nor demands that everyone who works for her agree with her.
And, I do believe that, if her authority had been undermined, she would most likely have terminated that person for doing so.
Mayor Warren should have given Mr. Munno the benefit of the doubt, and, after the mayor heard from him, she should not have given Jaisaan the platform that she did, or supported him in the way that she did.
Jaisaan made direct reference to the principal in his speech, relative to the conflicts that they’d been having.
This, in my opinion, was inappropriate for the student to share at an event that was supposed to be positive.
If I were the school’s principal, I also would not have let him speak, unless he removed his statements of personal attack.
I think it is great that Jaisaan was able to overcome his challenges to become the school’s valedictorian.
However, to call the principal out in the manner that he did was not the mature thing to do.
And, unfortunately, in her desire to provide Jaisaan with a platform to recognize his accomplishments, the mayor also made a mistake.
Mayor Warren has showed this city that it’s ok to undermine others’ authority, and that if you have strong enough allies, you can still get your message across, regardless of whether it’s true.
The one thing this society does not need is more people who disrespect authority.
In the end, the mayor did what is common to all human beings, she made a mistake.
However, it would be awesome if she recognized this, and then did what is uncommon to politicians, and admitted her mistake!
If you would like to contact me, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
(Michael Vaughn currently serves as senior pastor at New Wineskin Church in Rochester.)
(Disclaimer: The views expressed on our opinion pages are those of the author and do not necessarily represent the position or viewpoint of the Minority Reporter.)