Valparaiso, IN – A school bus driver was arrested on felony child neglect charges on Friday after she allowed students to driver the bus (video below).
“First, what you gotta do, is put your foot on the brake,” bus driver Joandrea Dehaven McAtee said in the video captured as she stood behind the middle school-aged driver, ABC News reported.
The incident occurred on Thursday, when 37-year-old McAtee allowed three different students to drive the school bus for short durations in a rural area.
The bus was carrying other students while the children – ages 11, 13, and 17 – took turns driving.
Students and parents reported the incident to school administrators and the Porter County Sheriff’s Department, who “quickly substantiated” the claims, Porter Township School Corporation officials told ABC News.
First Student, the company that operates the Porter Township school buses, immediately fired McAtee when it learned of the video and the circumstances behind it.
In a statement to ABC News, the company said it was “incredibly disappointed” by McAtee’s actions.
"There is nothing more important than the safety of the students we transport,” the company said. “Behavior such as this is completely unacceptable and totally at odds with what we stand for as a company. The driver has been terminated. We have a zero-tolerance policy for employees whose actions may harm or put others at risk."
The school district also confirmed that McAtee had been fired.
“The Porter Township School Corporation is angered and disappointed in the actions of this driver,” the township said in a statement to ABC News. “The driver was relieved of all duties involving Porter Township School Corporation.”
"This individual’s actions are not reflective of the hard work, dedication, and professionalism of our staff," the statement continued. "We are thankful for the students and parents who came forward quickly with this information to both PTSC administration and law enforcement allowing us to respond expediently and take the proper steps to insure student safety."
McAtee was arrested on a charge of felony neglect of a dependent.
She was previously charged for speeding in her personal vehicle in 2017, but otherwise had no offenses in the state of Indiana, ABC News reported.
You can watch a brief clip of McAtee letting a student drive the bus in the video below: