A local high school in the Mansfield Independent School District (MISD) terminated the employment of a special education aide who has since been arrested for the alleged sexual assault of an underage student.
Legacy High School reportedly fired 35-year-old Diego Barona back in January, just a couple of weeks after he allegedly assaulted an unidentified young girl.
Barona was arrested on Tuesday, February 22, in Tarrant County. He was charged with the sexual assault of a child younger than 17 years of age.
In Texas, the charge is a second-degree felony that carries a penalty of a $10,000 fine and up to 20 years in prison.
The complaint made to police alleges the assault on the underage student happened in mid-January.
Four different types of sexual contact are detailed in the complaint.
Legacy High School Principal Stephanie Bonneau sent an email to school parents a few days before Barona’s arrest, letting them know that there was an active investigation into “whether an employee at Legacy High School had an inappropriate relationship with a student.”
The email also let parents know that Diego Barona was terminated from the school out of an “abundance of caution.”
Barona attended Mansfield schools as a student, and both his mother and his brother are also employees of the district, according to the Texas Scorecard.
The Texas Education Agency is currently reviewing Barona’s educator certificate.
He is set to appear in court on May 30.
Parental concerns over sexual abuse in public schools have grown in recent years.
While research into abuse by teachers is sparse, a 2004 Department of Education report cited a study suggesting that 9.6% of all public school students experience unwanted educator sexual misconduct sometime between kindergarten and 12th grade.
The Dallas Express contacted the Mansfield Police Department and MISD for comment but did not receive a response by the time of this article’s publication.
People should click the link to the complaint.