Joandrea McAtee, 27, of Portage, was arrested in 2018 after the Porter Township Schools Administration and Porter County police investigated a parent's complaint that McAtee let children take turns driving the school bus.

VALPARAISO — A 27-year-old Porter Township school bus driver who is accused of allowing three students drive the vehicle Thursday with other students on board has been charged.

None of the students, who are 11, 13 and 17, have the required commercial driver's license required to drive a school bus, according to the charging information.

Joandrea McAtee, 27, of Portage, was arrested Friday. A felony charge of neglect of a dependent was filed against her Monday afternoon. 

A parent contacted the school corporation and police said they learned that McAtee allowed the students to drive her bus down Lourdes Street in a rural area of Valparaiso as she was dropping students off from school.

McAtee was immediately terminated by Porter Township and the bus service provider, according to a news release.

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She was taken into custody Friday at the Porter Township Bus Barn while picking up her final paycheck.

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

The case has been assigned to Porter Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Clymer. No initial hearing has been scheduled as of late Monday afternoon.

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Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.