Driver accused of letting students drive northwest Indiana bus pleads guilty

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VALPARAISO, Ind. — A former northwestern Indiana school bus driver who authorities say allowed children as young as 11 years old drive a bus has pleaded guilty in an agreement with prosecutors.

The Northwest Indiana Times reports Joandrea McAtee, of Portage, who was charged with a felony count of neglect of a dependent, entered the agreement Monday. Sentencing is Oct. 28 and McAtee could petition to reduce the charge to a misdemeanor if she completes probation.

The Porter County Sheriff’s Office has said McAtee allowed three students — ages 11, 13 and 17 — to drive the bus for a short distance in a rural area near Valparaiso as she was dropping students off from school in September 2018. McAtee was fired by the Porter Township school district.

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