Spartansburg, SC – A female private school counselor has been fired and criminally charged, after she confirmed allegations that she engaged in a sexual relationship with a student.
Kenleigh Prendergast, 25, was hired by Spartansburg Day School in August of 2017, school officials said, according to FOX News.
Tuition at the kindergarten-through-twelfth-grade private institution was estimated at $20,000 per year.
Prendergast’s inappropriate relationship with the unnamed student began in January of 2018, and ended just prior to allegations being raised against her on Mar. 25, investigators said, according to WHNS.
Police interviewed the school counselor on Friday, and she admitted that she and the student would correspond via text message, Facetime, and phone calls throughout the school days, police said.
They also interacted after regular school hours, and eventually began meeting at Prendergast’s off-campus private counseling practice, and at her residence.
Prendergast was taken into custody following the interview, and was charged with sexual battery of a student 16 or 17 years of age with no aggravated force or coercion, Spartansburg County Sheriff’s Office Master Deputy Darren Dukes told GoUpstate.
She was being held at the Spartansburg County Sheriff’s Office Detention facility.
In a statement to WHNS, Spartansburg Day School officials said they became aware of the allegations against Prendergast on Saturday.
“Effective immediately, Ms. Prendergast’s employment with the school has been terminated,” the statement read. “SDS puts the safety and wellbeing of our students above all things, and will cooperate fully with the Sheriff’s Office throughout this process.”
According to Prendergast’s Psychology Today profile, she is a licensed marriage and family therapy intern.
“I have several years of experience working in a variety of school environments, and have developed a passion for working with teens struggling with anxiety, depression, low self-esteem/confidence and difficult life transitions,” Prendergast said in her profile.
“I offer convenient after work/school hours at my practice in Spartanburg,” she added. “I know that you are busy, so it’s important to me to make sure that our schedules match up.”
The investigation is ongoing, Deputy Dukes said, according to GoUpstate.