Royal OakDecember 12, 2012
Former principal pleads guilty to embezzlement
By Chris Jackett
C & G Staff Writer
The uncomfortable saga that has strained many loyalties throughout the district for the past year is nearly over.
Former Royal Oak High School Principal Michael Greening, 46, pleaded guilty Dec. 11 to one count of embezzlement of an amount between $1,000 and $20,000 as part of a plea deal that dropped a second embezzlement charge. He verbally confirmed in court that he had used money from student accounts for personal use.
Greening had been arrested April 20 following allegations that he embezzled student activity funds totaling more than $11,000 in 2010 and 2011. He had been put on paid administrative leave Dec. 29, 2011, after some financial irregularities arose.
“Our commitment has always been to an objective, thorough, complete and fair process to resolve this very sad situation,” Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin said via email. “Our internal investigation, the work of external auditors, the police investigation and the Prosecutor’s Office all came to the same conclusion. Mr. Greening’s admission of wrongdoing and his guilty plea move us towards final resolution.”
Greening is scheduled to be sentenced at a 10 a.m. hearing Jan. 22 before Judge Shalina Kumar in Oakland County Circuit Court. Greening agreed to pay $25,558 in restitution, as well as undetermined legal and accounting fees, but could also face punishment ranging from probation to a maximum six months in jail.
Defense attorney Paul Stablein did not immediately return messages seeking comment.
On June 6, Greening announced his resignation from the district, effective June 30. A preliminary exam conference drew the support of many students April 27, who left class to visit the court following Greening’s April 20 arrest.
During the four-month investigation prior to an April 19 warrant, a now nearly 900-person “Save Greening” Facebook group drew support for the estranged principal, and several students, as well as Greening’s wife, spoke to the Board of Education in his favor during public comment at the school board’s meetings.
The funds in question were cash deposits intended for student activities that included the football program, prom, robotics, drama and spirit club.
Lewis-Lakin said the district and its high school are ready to move forward.
“Since Jan. 3, 2012, Royal Oak High School has been under the leadership of Mr. Jim Moll, interim principal,” Lewis-Lakin said via email. “This school year, enrollments in Advanced Placement courses are at an all-time high, and new supports for students at risk of failure have been implemented. Student achievement is increasing. The school is moving forward.”
Moll will continue in the role through June 30, 2013, at which point the district hopes to have a permanent replacement set. The hiring process for the next principal will begin in January 2013.