Wife Calls Investigation of Royal Oak High School Principal a 'Farce'
With Michael Greening on leave since mid-December, district officials say they are frustrated, too, but have been advised not to comment on the situation.
The wife of embattled Royal Oak High School Principal Michael Greening addressed the Royal Oak Board of Education on Thursday night in a tearful defense of the man she said deserves “common courtesy and respect.”
“For 14 years, Michael has invested his entire life to the School District of Royal Oak as if it was one of his children. However, you would never know that by the way the school district has treated him,” Beth Greening told the school board, choking back tears.
It has been a more than two months since Royal Oak High School parents and students received word that Greening had been placed on paid administrative leave "due to the possibility of financial irregularities in student activities funds." Since that time, no new information has been made available while the Royal Oak Police Department continues its investigation with no known timeline for resolution of the matter.
Beth Greening, speaking during a public comment period, told board members the situation has taken a toll on her entire family, including the couple’s two daughters who are students at Royal Oak High School. She called the investigation a farce.
“Please don’t give me the response that it is not in your hands and that it must run its course because at any time it is within your power as the School District of Royal Oak to say, ‘We have made a mistake,’ but you won’t," Greening said.
Jim Moll, a retired administrator from Birmingham Public Schools, has been running the school as interim principal since early January when students and staff returned from winter break.
A couple of parents and three students joined Beth Greening at the school board meeting Thursday evening, pleading with board members to act in a timely manner and reinstate the principal in time to be a part of Royal Oak High School’s graduation ceremony in June.
“When I graduate I will be very disappointed if Mr. Greening is not the one handing me my diploma,” senior Emily Collick told the board.
Parent Beth Linenberg, who has a child at the high school, expressed her frustration with the length of time of the investigation.
“I can’t understand why the situation is going on so long,” Linenberg said. “I thought that to bring in the police there should be fairly strong evidence of suspicion of criminal wrong-doing, not some minor procedural or process infraction.”
Linenberg stated she wasn’t buying “the spin” that placing Greening on administrative leave was “a neutral act."
“If the police have not found any evidence of criminal activity in over two months then it seems pretty unlikely that criminal activities have actually took place,” she said.
Board of Education President Gary Briggs told Greening’s supporters that the board members have been advised by attorneys and the Royal Oak Police not to comment on the situation.
“That is why we have not commented on it,” Briggs said. “I would ask you to be patient. This will be resolved and it will be explained in detail why it took time and what transpired in the process.”
“We probably are as frustrated as you about the time but it’s for everybody’s benefit.”
Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin said that he shared the frustration of those who want to see the situation resolved. "Our commitment has been and is to be sure that the investigation is complete, thorough and fair. While the time such an investigation takes is trying, we do not want a rush to come to a conclusion to compromise the process. We have every confidence in the work our Royal Oak Police Department is doing" he said.