SouthLake Christian Academy’s chief financial officer and the pastor who helped found the school 20 years ago have resigned amid a probe into financial mismanagement, SouthLake’s lawyer said Thursday.
Wayne Parker, SouthLake’s CFO and former head of school, resigned unexpectedly via email on Sept. 5 as the school began a routine look at its finances, said lawyer Robert Sawyer II of the Charlotte law firm Clawson and Staubes. The firm is the school’s general counsel.
Parker hasn’t replied to messages from SouthLake officials since he resigned, Sawyer said.
Wade Malloy, senior pastor at SouthLake Presbyterian Church, resigned Oct. 5 as school officials were digging further into the school’s finances and confronted him about discrepancies, Sawyer said.
Parents concerned about the resignations contacted the Observer and other local media this week to find out why the pair resigned.
Sawyer declined to say how much money is thought to be missing.
He said the school hasn’t contacted the Huntersville Police Department or federal authorities and didn’t know when that might happen.
That’s in part because SouthLake officials have been in “theological, philosophical discussions about when to take a brother before a magistrate,” he said.
Also, “even to this day, we don’t know the whole scope of it,” he said of the financial irregularities.
The school and church are at N.C. 73 and Hagers Ferry Road in Mecklenburg County on Lake Norman.
Sawyer said the school called in outside consultants this summer to look into its operations as part of a standard review. Officials hadn’t suspected financial irregularities until Parker was contacted to help with the financial part of the review and suddenly resigned, Sawyer said.
The private school was founded in 1994 as a mission of SouthLake Presbyterian Church and has about 800 students, prekindergarten through high school, and about 100 faculty and staff.
Interim Head of School Phillip Horton didn’t respond to phone messages left by the Observer at the school and his home this week.
In a statement, he said, “We educate students and teach the gospel – we do not conduct investigations. We will hand over what we know to the proper authorities and fully support their investigation.”
In a letter to SouthLake families, Horton said: “I want to ask for your prayers and support as we walk through this time together. As interim head of school, I see this as a time of renewal and a new beginning in many ways for this school ministry. I am humbled and thankful to be serving you during this season.”
Efforts by the Observer to reach Malloy and Parker, who was head of school until becoming the CFO in June, were unsuccessful.
“We have no comment,” said Parker’s lawyer, George Laughrun of Charlotte. “We don’t know what the evidence will show.”
Parker had been at the school for 18 years. He received his doctorate of education from LaSalle University in Philadelphia and his MBA from Pfeiffer University in Misenheimer.
Malloy and his wife of 41 years have three children, according to the church’s website.
He was SouthLake’s “church planter” in 1992 and has been its only senior pastor.