UPDATE: Royal Oak High School Principal Michael Greening Put on Leave
Former Birmingham schools administrator to serve as interim principal while the school district and police department investigate 'possibility of financial irregularities.'
Michael Greening, the principal of Royal Oak High School, has been placed on a paid administrative leave "due to the possibility of financial irregularities in student activities funds," according to a note sent from the district's superintendent Thursday morning.
Jim Moll, who retired in June after working 38 years in the Birmingham Public Schools district, will serve as the interim principal, effective Tuesday, when school resumes after the Christmas break, Royal Oak Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin said in his note to ROHS families.
The school district become aware of information that led it to look at the student activities fund, which is comprised of money from the school's organizations and activities, Lewis-Lakin said.
"The concerns are about potential irregularities in the high school activity fund, which is a fund which includes accounts for the various high school activities and clubs," Lewis-Lakin said. "Athletic funds is a separate fund."
Greening, who has been with the school district as a teacher and administrator for about 15 years, was placed on leave Dec. 16. Greening could not be reached for comment Thursday.
The superintendent said he could not comment on specifics because of the ongoing investigation. “We have involved the appropriate outside agencies to make sure the investigation is complete, thorough and fair,” he told Royal Oak Patch on Thursday morning.
Lt. Tom Goad of the Royal Oak Police Department confirmed a police report was filed and the department is looking into the claims against Greening.
Financial irregularities can mean something as simple as an accounting error was made or embezzlement, he said. “If we determine our investigation warrants charges, we will issue them,” Goad said.
Officials looked outside the district for an interim principal because they did not want to compromise any of the district’s buildings or areas of work.
“All current staff are fully committed to and engaged in their current assignments,” Lewis-Lakin said. “We did not want to pull anyone from their existing duties. We are very fortunate to have secured the services of Mr. Moll. His experience and his commitment to students and their success will serve us well.”
Reaction from community
Parents, students and community members reacted to the news of the investigation of Greening, who has been principal of the school since 2007.
Janet Norling, Royal Oak High School's PTSA president, was caught off guard by the news of Greening being put on leave. She has known the principal as a parent (Greening has two daughters at the high school), administrator and a teacher.
"I don't know what to say. I am surprised," she said. "He's always been so supportive and pro-active in the PTSA."
Senior Class President Dan Dobras was saddened by the news. Dobras said he has had many conversations with Greening about events, organizations and happenings at the high school.
"I can't speak about financial irregularities. I don't know anything about that," Dobras said. "But I can tell you when he gets complaints about different things he always tries everything in his power to make things fair and valid for the high school students."
Kathleen Otruba, mother of two ROHS students and president of the school's Band & Orchestra Boosters organization, was disappointed to learn Greening had been placed on leave.
“He’s been very supportive of the instrumental music program," she said. “I am hoping for a positive outcome from the investigation.”
Ford Hall, commercial manager at Royal Oak Ford, has worked with Greening on school fundraisers such as the Drive One 4UR School program. "We'll continue to support Royal Oak High School," Hall said. "We're not going to back off because someone is being investigated. This is America, and you are innocent until proven guilty."
Interim principal to be introduced
A reception to introduce Moll to the high school community is scheduled for 7-8 p.m. Tuesday in the high school media center, Lewis-Lakin said.
"We are fortunate that Mr. Moll has agreed to step into this leadership role with us," Lewis-Lakin said in his note. "He will be working with the building and district administrative teams, the faculty and staff of the high school, ROHS families, and, most importantly, our high school students, to provide strong leadership for student success."