PEARLAND, Texas — A driver for the Pearland Independent School District was charged with sexual assault of a child after investigators determined she had inappropriate contact with a 14-year-old student on a school bus.
According to the Pearland Police Department, 47-year-old Diana Leigh Almanza was arrested at her home Tuesday and booked into jail on a $60,000 bond.
A press release from the school district said the victim, a male teen, rode with Almanza to the bus barn early each day.
An investigation was launched last week when another employee noticed suspicious activity and notified Pearland ISD administrators. The district said the investigation “revealed inappropriate interaction between the employee and the student.”
Pearland police told KHOU 11 News the driver would cover the vehicle’s onboard camera but the microphone still picked up evidence of inappropriate contact.
Pearland ISD immediately terminated Almanza prior to her Thursday afternoon bus route for violations of district policy, unauthorized use of a bus, as well as misconduct with a student, officials said.
Neighbors say the two appeared inseparable, even though Almanza has children of her own.
"I’d seen them for the past couple of years out here and it just was a little awkward, a little weird, seeing how close he was with her," one neighbor said.
Others had their suspicions, too. Co-workers said they would see Almanza alone with the teen early in the morning at the district’s bus barn.
Almanza put a blanket over her head when she was released from jail after posting bond on Wednesday.
Three men picked her up. They led her to the back seat of a pickup truck, where the windows were covered with trash bags and a sun shade.