Parents across the country entrust school bus drivers to get their kids to school and home safely. That changed Friday, when an Indiana school bus driver was caught on camera allowing three students to take turns driving her school bus, police say. Fox News reported on Sunday that Joandrea McAtee was arrested for allegedly allowing an 11-year-old, 13-year-old, and 17-year-old take the wheel on their Valparaiso, Indiana, school bus. A video on Twitter allegedly shows part of the event in action.
“Don’t tell any other adults about this. Okay, first what you gotta do, put your foot on the brake,” the woman in the video says, as she hunches over a female child in the driver’s seat of the bus. The woman speaking in the video wears a yellow vest, typical of school bus drivers, and fits the description of the arrested woman.
One of the children on the bus reported the incident to her mother, Rochelle McNamara, who contacted the police. Reportedly, McNamara gave a statement to CBS News.
“I don’t understand where an adult who’s driving a bus gets an idea that that is okay,” stated McNamara.
Fox News says that McAtee was fired immediately by the school upon her arrest.
welcome to Boone grove where we let 6th graders drive a bus with children on it. pic.twitter.com/gQRzWUrDPg— brianna lavin (@breelavin24) September 21, 2018
A second Twitter video shows the same child actually driving the bus, as McAtee says, “It’s all good, it’s all good. I’m letting her stop at Michael’s stop.” Some of the videos came from students on the bus who recorded the shocking event.
The bus driver, 27, was charged with a felony for “neglect of a dependent,” says Yahoo News. According to Indiana state law, this charge can be brought on any adult who “places the dependent in a situation that endangers the dependent’s life or health.” First Student, the company that operates school buses in Porter Township, where the incident took place, found enough evidence from video footage and student/parent reports to terminate the employee, as they claim she does not represent their values. They stated as much in a statement regarding the event.
“This individual’s actions are not reflective of the hard work, dedication, and professionalism of our staff. 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.”
Yahoo News further reports that the defendant has only received one traffic citation before, in 2017, for driving 54 mph in a 35 mph speed zone. She reportedly pleaded guilty to the offense and paid fines. Importantly, police report that no students were injured in this event.