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Indiana School Bus Driver Arrested After Letting Kids Drive, Police Say
"I don’t understand where an adult who’s driving a bus gets an idea that that is okay," says one parent after learning of Joandrea McAtee's alleged misconduct.
A school bus driver in Indiana has been arrested after police say they found video of her letting students drive her vehicle.
Joandrea McAtee, 27, was charged with felony neglect on Sept. 21. She was arrested after collecting her final check from the Porter Township Bus Barn in northwest Indiana, according to CBS Chicago.
Parents had informed a resource officer at Boone Grove High School that a driver had been letting children take turns driving one of the buses on the way home, according to a letter emailed to Porter Township parents.
The Porter County Sheriff's Department confirmed to CBS Chicago that McAtee had allowed three students -- an 11-year-old, a 13-year-old, and 17-year old -- to drive while other students rode in the bus. An investigation into the situation was launched immediately after school officials had been informed.
Sheriff David Reynolds expressed appreciation for the individuals who brought the incident to the attention of the police.
“The students and parents that immediately came forward with this information should be commended for doing exactly what we teach, which is SEE SOMETHING, SAY SOMETHING,” Sheriff David Reynolds said in a statement. “An investigation was immediately started and no one was injured or harmed. The Sheriff’s Office and the Porter Township School Corporation takes safety and security of every student seriously and every parent must understand that this case will be investigated thoroughly.”
Meanwhile, videos of the students driving have gone viral on social media. One tweet with footage of the scene has more than 52,000 views.
Local parent Rochelle McNamara said her daughter had informed her of the driver's antics on Sept. 20.
“Then we got the email, and I was just like, ‘I don’t understand where an adult who’s driving a bus gets an idea that that is okay,'” McNamara said to CBS Chicago.
McAtee has been fired by the district and the bus company. A spokesperson for the bus company confirmed her termination in a statement.
“We are incredibly disappointed by the actions of our former driver. There is nothing more important than the safety of the students we transport. Behavior such as this is completely unacceptable and totally at odds with what we stand for as a company. The driver was terminated. We have a zero-tolerance policy for employees whose actions may harm or put others at risk," the statement read, according to Fox News.
As of Friday, McAtee has been held at the Porter County Jail. Information about her upcoming court dates have not been made available to public.
[Photo: Porter County Sheriff's Office]