Michael Greening, 46, of Royal Oak, was sentenced Tuesday to two years of probation for taking funds from a Royal Oak High School student activities account.
Greening pleaded guilty in December to a charge of felony embezzlement of more than $1,000 but less than $20,000, which carries a maximum five-year penalty and/or fines.
Defense attorney Paul Stablein told Oakland County Circuit Court Judge Shalina Kumar that Greening received many letters of support "from people who have known him for decades."
Greening, a graduate of Kimball High School, is a long-time resident of Royal Oak and has two daughters that presently attend Royal Oak High School.
"Mr. Greening is extremely remorseful to the school district, to Royal Oak High School and to the community," Stablein said, stating his client's long silence on the charges against him were the result of acting on his attorney's advice.
Oakland County Assistant Prosecutor Robert Novy told the judge Greening's low-key actions reflected poorly on the school district, specifically mentioning a student walkout that he believed put the school board in "a bad light."
Speaking on behalf of Royal Oak Schools, Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin told Kumar that Greening violated the trust of students, colleagues and the entire community and that he was hoping Greening's sentencing would allow the district to have closure and regain focus on student learning in a positive way.
"He clearly did something that was wrong," Lewis-Lakin said, adding he hoped students learned when a wrong is committed, justice is served.
Lewis-Lakin also told the court the school district is seeking restitution for investigation and legal costs it incurred as a result of the former principal's crime.
Greening kept his courtroom remarks brief.
"I am obviously remorseful," he said. "I know exactly why I am here. I am not mystified. I made a series of mistakes and I am ready to get my life back together."
Kumar ordered Greening to pay $25,880 in restitution. Costs for legal and accounting fees are still subject to determination at a future hearing. She also ordered Greening not to enter Royal Oak High School unless it was to attend an event that had to do directly with his daughters.
Lewis-Lakin provided this statement after today's sentencing:
Mr. Greening entered into an agreement with the prosecutor's office that allowed him to plead guilty to a single felony. As a part of that plea, Mr. Greening stipulated to a restitution amount of over $25,000, an admission that he converted at least this amount of student activity funds to his personal use in a pattern of behavior that continued for over three years.
The district has requested that the prosecutor's office pursue additional restitution for the accounting and legal fees incurred as a direct result of Mr. Greening's criminal activities. A final total restitution amount will be determined at a future hearing.
Since last January, Royal Oak High School has been under the leadership of Mr. Jim Moll, our interim principal. Initiatives to advance teaching and learning are moving forward. Indicators of student success are positive and improving. This weekend, I had the privilege of observing our nationally recognized ROHS Model United Nations team as they participated in a conference in Ann Arbor. In less than a month, three bus loads of ROHS students will spend their February recess in service to victims of disaster. The process to hire a new long-term ROHS principal is underway. Our school, our students, are moving forward.