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Witnesses Describe Alleged Financial Irregularities in Ex-Principal Michael Greening's Prelim

The judge adjourned the preliminary examination for one week after hearing testimony from almost a dozen witnesses of alleged financial irregularities at Royal Oak High School during the time Michael Greening was principal.

A teacher, a club sponsor, a parent, and a coach were among the witnesses Monday morning that described alleged financial irregularities at during the time former principal Michael Greening was the building's top administrator.

After hearing more than three hours of testimony during a preliminary examination in , Judge Daniel Sawicki adjourned the hearing until 9 a.m. Aug. 13. The ex-principal is charged with two counts of felony embezzlement, each carrying a maximum five-year penalty and/or fines.

Greening, who is alleged to have taken between

The student activities fund includes money from variety of events, clubs and groups such as athletic boosters, drama club, robotics, prom and the Spirit Club.

 testified that on or around Dec. 13, he delivered a cash deposit to the main office for $1,243.73, the majority of which was cash, to Greening's secretary Lynne Staszak. Gordon said when he got a receipt for the deposit "it was a different amount."

Gordon testified the receipt showed a deposit of only $240.73.

After noticing the deposit was short $1,000, Gordon said he had a conversation with Pam Moore, the school's athletic coordinator and later he approached Greening.

"I told him that number was incorrect, and I needed that corrected," Gordon said. Greening told the former AD he would "make it right," Gordon testified.

Moore testified Gordon was upset and that she noticed a transfer of $1,000 was made from the student activity fund to the athletic boosters' account and wondered why.

"There should not be money transferred from that account," she said. "It's a fundraising account."

Staszak would testify she recalled Gordon bringing in a large stack of cash, indicating with her hands that it was "2 and a half inches thick."

"It was a wad of cash and checks," she said.

The secretary would normally re-count the money but did not have time on that day so she put the money into a locked safe that only Greening and she had the combination and keys for, she testified. When she went to count the money, she said the stack was much smaller - approximately one-half to three-quarters of an inch thick, she said.

"It was significant," Staszak testified. "I called Mr. Gordon and told him 'there is a lot less money than what you gave me.'"

Gordon and Moore came down to the main office, Staszak said. The secretary testified she told Greening the pair were very angry and upset and that Greening talked to Gordon in his office with the door closed.

Throughout the morning various witnesses, from a parent treasurer of the high school's robotics team to the sponsor of the school's dance company described alleged financial irregularities and bookkeeping procedures the school had in place that were sometimes ignored, such as not dating or signing deposit slips and simply leaving money in an envelope on a secretary's desk if she was not present to receive it.

David Potter, the former head football coach, testified he did not realize money collected from a Gold Card fundraiser - Gold Cards are discount cards to area businesses players sold for $20 each - was not all deposited until he was questioned by Detective Keith Spencer of the .

Potter said he never compared team records to the school's records or checked his receipts.

"I trusted the receipt I got back was what I turned in," he said.

Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin had this statement in response to today's testimony:

The financial irregularities and sloppy bookkeeping described in the testimony today occurred within the high school student activities funds, which are the direct responsibility of the high school principal.   

We became aware of irregularities in the student activity accounts on December 16, 2011.   When school resumed in January, the district instituted revised money handling procedures for the student activity accounts.  These procedures are designed to prevent any recurrence of that which has been described in court.  The new procedures were developed with guidance from our auditors and are being stringently monitored.   

The sloppiness and lack of adherence to money handling procedures described in testimony today has not been and is not acceptable.   We have no evidence to suggest that such behavior has occurred in accounts other than the high student activity accounts.    

Greening is back in court 9 a.m. Aug. 13 in front of Judge Sawicki in 44th District Court for the continuation of the preliminary examination. Greening remains on $50,000 personal recognizance with conditions, including that he not leave the state.

Correction: The school district became aware of irregularities in the student activity accounts on December 16, 2011.

Kimball Grad August 06, 2012 at 08:31 PM
And the school district wants to ask taxpayers for a millage increase, too. By her own testimony, the secretary, Lynne Staszak didn't count the cash deposit. Instead, she describes the amount she accepted in inches!!! She should be fired or reprimanded, too. These morons have proven not to be competant with taxpayer dollars. And yes, assets of the school district belongs to the taxpayers. The former football coach testified that he "never compared team records to the school's records or checked his receipts." So much for checks and balances. This is a sad chapter in Royal Oak Schools history.
Mark H. Stowers August 06, 2012 at 09:28 PM
Let's find a great replacement for Gordon. Here's where you start the process: http://www.applitrack.com/oakland/onlineapp/jobpostings/view.asp?district=814&category=Administration
Royal Oak Citizen August 07, 2012 at 01:16 AM
To be fair- the funds discussed have nothing to do with tax payer's dollars. That is an assumption you have made. I am not defending anyone involved or the situation at hand but this ONE TERRIBLE situation does not define or represent the entire Royal Oak School District. There has been significant federal and state funding decreases which have terrible impacted the school district. NOT passing a millage has absolutely nothing to do with this situation and would create an even worse chapter for the school district. Again, this situation is awful but has nothing to do with tax payers dollars and a millage but rather a few individuals who 'allegedly' made extremely unethical decisions. Those individuals should be punished accordingly. It is an extremely unfair to blame the entire district and punish the STUDENTS by not passing a millage.
A Person August 07, 2012 at 03:52 AM
The superintendent is talking about sloppiness and yet says the irregularities occurred on "December 16, 2012."
Judy Davids (Editor) August 07, 2012 at 12:31 PM
Thank you for pointing out the typo. The superintendent's statement should read: "We became aware of irregularities in the student activity accounts on December 16, 2011."
Bob Smith August 07, 2012 at 03:07 PM
Kimball grad, you are absolutely right. We the taxpayer should shake Mr. Gordon's hand for exposing the thief or thieves... might be too soon to tell. Mr. Gordon spotted this in his first year as Athletic Director. Why didn't the previous Athletic Director spot these irregularities? Apparently the previous AD received a promotion. Isn't it great that we promote incompentence?
nofuture August 07, 2012 at 03:31 PM
The two sources of school funding are linked, for the reasons you've laid out. Decreases in tax based finding pushes more financial responsibility onto fund raising efforts. What was formerly funded by tax and was a baseline for education is now partially privatized by fund raising. Because of a structural lapse in the accountability of private funding, the baseline educational resources can be compromised by theft, for example. So- when there inefficient use of any money brings the return on our tax investment into question. Why bother throwing more money at a fiscally irresponsible organization? They have already administratively failed. Additionally- this situation is poor marketing of Royal Oak to potential homeowners and their children, which in turn decreases property values and further erodes the number of students as well as per student funding.
ROHS 2009 August 22, 2012 at 03:03 PM
We should all just chill, and wait this one out! We all have to come home.
Dustin October 21, 2012 at 01:42 AM
As former person/student for royal oak high school the only person that has is was the one that opend it and the ones that know the safe number know its my understanding that she had to put it in the safe corect didnt she need to know the combination too open it MRs, Pam and mr Gordan and mr potter are out of the picture the judge is only going to look at who was in that safe durint the time period of whenn it was taking period. There is allwasy a possibility of taking money that doesnt belong to one another has any one mis the ]40.000 know why is it know that we are all just finding out about this .. How long has this been going on? no one will ever know!!!!!!!

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