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Students React to Charges Against Royal Oak High School Principal

Michael Greening faces embezzlement charges. With his pre-exam conference scheduled for Friday, community may finally begin to get some answers.

Students and former students reacted to the news of  Principal Michael Greening’s arraignment on felony embezzlement charges Friday with a mixture of disappointment and hope that this “mess” is some sort of misunderstanding.

Greening stood mute in as a plea of not guilty was entered on his behalf , each carrying a maximum five-year penalty and/or fines.

“This whole thing is a mess,” said Senior Class President Dan Dobras, who like many students is worried for the embattled principal and his family. Greening, a longtime Royal Oak resident, has two daughters at Royal Oak High School.

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It has been more than three months since Superintendent Shawn Lewis-Lakin sent a letter to the school's roughly 1,500 students and their families saying "due to the possibility of financial irregularities in student activities funds."  Since that time little information has been released by the school district or Royal Oak Police. Even Greening’s attorney, Paul Stablein, appeared to be in the dark about the allegations against his client.

“In regards to the specifics, I don’t know what it is yet. I am not privy to what the investigation has entailed,” Stablein said outside the 44th District courtroom on Friday.

Student reaction

“Students are all civilized and we have opinions,” Dobras said.

But it’s hard to establish any point of view when so little is known, he said. Students received a letter in December and then there was Friday’s arraignment.

“There is no middle to the story,” Dobras said. "Where is the middle?"

The situation has been handled poorly, said Randy Wade, a senior at the high school. When students came back from the winter holiday break in January, just days after learning Greening was placed on administrative leave, “the first few days were ridiculous,” according to Wade.

“Teachers were huddled in the hallways talking to each other,” he said. “No one knew what was going on.”

Wade expects more of the same today, as students and staff speculate and wait for answers as Greening’s case plays out in the court system. More information about the government’s case may be forthcoming Friday, when Greening is scheduled for a pre-exam conference.

Read more on the steps in a criminal case.

For now, all Wade can say with certainty is that he is disappointed Greening most likely will not be a part of his 2012 graduation ceremony.

Former ROHS student Bill LeAnnais plans to be in court Friday for the pre-exam conference to show his support for his one-time principal, whom he said he misses now that he is a college student. There is not the kind of one-on-one support from the top at the collegiate level that he was accustomed to getting from Greening, he said.

“I am sure this is some sort of misunderstanding – like an accounting mistake,” said LeAnnis, who graduated last year. “He has my 100 percent support.”

School district directs questions to police

Superintendent Lewis-Lakin is directing all questions regarding the police investigation and criminal charges to the and Oakland County Prosecutor's Office.

After the district initiated an investigation in December, the matter was turned over to the Royal Oak Police Department for a forensic audit. The process is in the hands of the Oakland County Prosecutor’s Office, and Lewis-Lakin said he cannot comment other than to say the district is committed to a process that is "complete, thorough, impartial and fair."

Lt. Tom Goad of the Royal Oak Oak Police issued a news release Friday with the charges against Greening, and had no further comment.

Thomas Gagne April 24, 2012 at 01:43 AM
Erica and Mark, do you have any evidence of a set-up?
Ronald Wolf April 24, 2012 at 02:19 AM
Is it possible? I do not have any idea. Royal Oak High has a long history of being above average in no small part due to the quality of its staff. A lot of people will be disappointed if this plays out against the principal and I would think if he was guilty, or possibly had an ulterior motive other than just having the opportunity he would by now have admitted wrongdoing to alleviate the suffering of his family and the students who admire him. We all have feet of clay.
john doe April 24, 2012 at 11:44 AM
@ronald who are you kidding? Royal oak high exemplifies mediocre. The top schools in the area, the above average and outstanding schools are troy high, athens, andover, seaholm, lasher, adams, rochester high and stoney ridge.... royal oak compares to ferndale or berkley.... so perhaps a change is due anyways..
Sandy Gossett April 24, 2012 at 01:46 PM
Kelly is absolutely right - thanks for your words- so many need to hear them. Well said.
Bill April 24, 2012 at 01:52 PM
In due time the legal process will play out, and we’ll all have answers. Regardless of the outcome, the positive impact Mr. Greening has had on various families in the area will remain intact. It’s unfortunate that our legal system drags on so long. But then, is it not better to be thorough and accurate rather than rush to judgement? You know, it’s very easy to condemn an individual, especially while hiding behind anonymity. Yet regardless of the accusations, the warrants and court proceedings, an accused is still innocent until proven guilty. I’m surprised that an individual who apparently spends a considerable amount of time at the court house watching proceedings such as “Mr. Doe,” has such disregard for our legal system and the presumption of innocence. If an accusation were equivalent to guilt, then “Mr. Doe” would be guilty of slander and would have no right to defend himself - correct? Let’s rein in our emotional reactions and let the calmer minds of the judicial system do their jobs.
Judy Davids (Editor) April 24, 2012 at 02:02 PM
Let me just jump in here and say that there was in fact a warrant hearing on April 19 and that we continue to work on this story. And thank you everyone for considerably toning down your language.
KimballGrad April 24, 2012 at 02:03 PM
@Mark - agreed. There's more to the story then we know. @Erica - As a Kimball grad and having a family member who used to teach within the school district and is still in touch with many teachers and board members, I am very inclined to agree with you. There's been something going on behind the scenes for years and the school district has always had it in for him. I'd love to see Fieger represent Greening! Also, let's not forget another Kimball teacher was also embezzling from the sports fund for YEARS...Mr. Poznick. While social media wasn't a thing back then, why did that get swept under the rug?
john doe April 24, 2012 at 02:36 PM
@bill, its funny everyone claims im hiding when my name is posted and everyone else has just initials or a first name... next yes its true he is presumed innocent, but my point is everyone is ignoring the material facts and claiming some conspiracy witch hunt.... FYI now that he is charged Greening WILL NEVER be found INNOCENT, at best he can be found NOT GUILTY, which differs greatly form innocent... finally no slander has been even remotely committed, so stop the nonsense, you cant slander a guy that is charged with a crime about the crime he was in fact charged with!
Mark H. Stowers April 24, 2012 at 03:13 PM
Thomas, I believe there is more to this story. I'm not assigned to it from any of my publications but as a parent with kids in the school district I'd like to know what is happening at ROHS and the administration. There is a lot at stake and if others are involved we all need to shine a light on them to see what's there.
The Duke of Royal Oak April 24, 2012 at 03:14 PM
Judy, thank you for monitoring the feed back and bringing facts and integrity to Patch. People- PLEASE CALM DOWN and let the case proceed with the facts.If anyone has FACTS to a CONSPIRACY contact the Royal Oak Police or the court.
Erich Von Zipper April 24, 2012 at 04:09 PM
Jon Dough - you are citing schools with larger student populations and districts with higher tax bases. Not a valid comparison if we are to even begin to believe that there is any factual basis to your post. And it is LAHSER - not Lasher.
Erich Von Zipper April 24, 2012 at 04:12 PM
Mr Wade is correct - the current board is quickly developing a reputation for arrogance and their high handed treatment of students and members of the community should be remembered when their positions come up for reelection.
KO April 24, 2012 at 05:38 PM
@john doe You made mention above that Mr. Greening stole $60,000 over 5 years. Was that mentioned in court on April 19th? I ask because he is charged with 2 counts of embezzling up to only $20,000. Could you please elaborate?
john doe April 24, 2012 at 05:46 PM
Erich, these schools are all in the same class A division and have nearly identical student body size, all between 1500 and 2000, varying by year..... royal oak 1700, troy athens 1800, LAHSER 900, Rochester 1700... they all play int he same division sports as well furthermore the prop taxes are virtually identical in troy as royal oak...and even the other cities, just the appraisals are higher... so my post is dead on!
john doe April 24, 2012 at 05:48 PM
@pasternak so they just made up the arrest warrant too? no judges signature given based on evidence? just randomly picked the guy up based on a rumor? hearing was real, his bank statements were real, and the exact same dollar amount deposited in them as what was missing was real...
john doe April 24, 2012 at 05:50 PM
again, how do you think they arrest people when the crime is not committed in front of people... they gather evidence and have a gearing to issue warrant.... why is everyone in such denial that this guy embezzled? Does anyone doubt Madoff? is he a victim of conspiracy too?
john doe April 24, 2012 at 06:02 PM
what was mentioned was that $60k over 5 years has come up missing in the student activity funds.... perhaps more charges are coming, or they could only verify 20k in his accounts as evidence to press the charges... arrest warrants and arriagnments on charges are not always identical... the fact remains these kids in the high school are missing money, and while everyone is rallying behind greening, I dont hear anyone offering to cough up the money to make things right....
Mark H. Stowers April 24, 2012 at 06:26 PM
Well, its time to leave this post and head over to this one: http://royaloak.patch.com/articles/testimony-greening-converted-more-than-11-000-of-school-funds-for-his-own-use
Kimberly Middlewood April 24, 2012 at 06:40 PM
I'm wondering because I have yet to find it although perhaps I missed it, what Mr. Greening himself has said. Has he made a statement?
Janet O'Leary April 24, 2012 at 07:48 PM
His family has been advised not to make statements according to another Patch article.
KO April 24, 2012 at 08:08 PM
I think we ALL realize money is missing. I was just asking a simple question.
Sarah April 24, 2012 at 09:04 PM
I'm completely surprised at the blind faith everyone has in this man; completely ignoring all the FACTS that have been stated in all of the previous articles in regards to this case. There is in fact EVIDENCE...he couldn't have been charged otherwise. Although everyone is hating on John Doe, because he is not blindly supporting Greening; he is actually the only one commenting who seems to actually know any of the facts that are available for ALL of you to read for yourself. Instead of being angry with him, read up on the facts of the case. Maybe if you read about the actual evidence that has been documented and testified to, you may start directing your anger at the person who probably deserves it; Michael Greening. I am not saying that he is without a doubt guilty, but there IS evidence that suggests he either embezzled the money himself or was privy to the fact SOMEONE was. Get your heads out of the sand and read the facts. Someone stole money and Greening had to at least KNOW about it, if he didn't do it himself. He may seem like a great man and had been a great role model or support for your kids, but that does not make him exempt from faults. The best con-men are the one you would never suspect because everyone loves them. It seems these blind supporters need a dose of reality. He wouldn't have been arraigned if they hadn't found evidence. Research the facts before you attack people who believe there might be some truth to these charges.
Eliminate Stupidity April 24, 2012 at 10:36 PM
I believe its important to remember that as American citizens, we have the benefit of being considered innocent until proven guilty. Sadly, media organizations and journalist alike, have played a major role in destroying the presumption of innocence. Like many of you, I'm hoping that Mr. Greening is proven innocent.
john doe April 24, 2012 at 11:18 PM
1, He will not be proven innocent! There is no such verdict in a court of law! 2. There is no statement in any founding document that states innocent until proven guilty! The burden of proof is on the prosecution, but thats not the same thing!
tim klemet April 25, 2012 at 10:31 AM
Great points "John Doe" Well played!
tim klemet April 25, 2012 at 10:36 AM
I am a big supporter of Mr. Greening, that said, I find myself agreeing with John Doe. He is the only one that is making any sence in all these posts. I hope and pray Mr. Greening had nothing to do with the missing money, but at this point, it's NOT looking very good.
Bill April 26, 2012 at 04:40 AM
Mr. Doe - You mistake my comments as being blindly supportive of the individual, when in fact I am supportive of the process (within reason). Regardless of what has been said, what evidence has been produced and what charges have been brought - the guy deserves his day in court and to present his side of the story. Out of respect for his children, I think restraint is in order. As for my slander comment - hello - a little sarcasm there... I just threw that in there for the fun of it.
Sue Sandtveit April 27, 2012 at 11:33 AM
Poznick's case was NOT swept under the rug. There was little oversight back-in-the-day. The district's entire sports accounting procedure was revamped after Poznick resigned.
Drake Smarch April 27, 2012 at 03:38 PM
BOOM! way to go randy! so much more respect. :)
Debra Ball May 31, 2012 at 02:34 AM
I do not know personally know Mr. Greening nor any of the Board members. I do trust our court system and I am willing to wait for the results. I am aware of similar cases, however, in which a trusted person, deeply loved by their community, was later found guilty of financial misconduct. It does happen. I attended a church which became deeply divided when the minister was accused of embezzlement. When it turned out that he was guilty, and was fired, there were still people insisting that he was 'set up' and that he was a wonderful guy. So even a legal verdict won't necessarily change people's minds.

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