Indiana School Bus Driver Lets Kids Drive, Gets Charged With Felony

The incident was caught on video and posted to social media, causing it to go viral. 

Twitter / Porter County PD

A school bus driver in northwest Indiana has been arrested after letting three students, aged 11, 13, and 17, drive her bus without proper licensing or consent. Several students filmed parts of the incident and uploaded it to Twitter, spreading the news across the school and internet almost instantly.

In a news release, Chief Deputy Jeff Brigs of the Porter County Sheriff's Office said the three students took turns driving the bus down public roads in rural settings.

A video shows one of the students piloting the bus with the driver, Joandrea McAtee, standing beside them giving instructions. The incident happened last Thursday in Valparaiso, Indiana, which sits roughly 50 miles southeast of Chicago. After a parent complained to a Boone Grove High School resource officer, the Porter County Sheriff’s Office investigated the situation and made the decision to charge McAtee with neglecting a dependent, according to the Northwest Indiana Times, a level 6 felony.

When McAtee went to the Porter Township bus barn to pick up her final paycheck, she was taken into custody. 

In the second video, McAtee can be heard saying, "It's all good, it's all good. I'm lettin' her stop at Michael's stop," as she sits in the seat behind the young driver. 

"The Porter Township School Corporation is angered and disappointed in the actions of this driver," Stacey Schmidt, Porter Township School Corporation superintendent, said in an email to the Northwest Indiana Times. "The safety of our students is a top priority." 

Sheriff David Reynolds said, "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.' An investigation was immediately started and no one was injured or harmed. The Sheriff’s Office and the Porter Township School Corp. takes safety and security of every student seriously and every parent must understand that this case will be investigated thoroughly."

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