A YouTube video of an elderly bus monitor being verbally tormented by obnoxious middle school students has outraged viewers around the world.
Karen Huff Klein wipes at tears, but does not lose her temper as the students who go to school in Greece School District in New York make obnoxious comments about her weight, being poor, sweating and more.
"You don't have a family because they all killed themselves because they didn't want to be near you," one student says to her. Klein's son commited suicide 10 years ago, according to several media reports.
When the students ask questions about her purse and how much it cost, she reads them the words written on the purse.
"Expect miracles. Live with integrity," she said."I try to live by some of these words. I try, but it's very hard."
After the video went viral Wednesday, a fundraising campaign started that has raised more than $300,000 for Klein to use for a dream vacation.
Appearing Thursday morning on the Today show, the 68-year-old told host Matt Lauer she's overwhelmed by the amount of support she's received.
Asked by Lauer what she would say to the boys' parents, she responded:
"I'm sorry that your sons acted the way they did. I'm sure they don't act that way at home, but you never know what they're going to do when they're out of the house."
The Greece School District posted this response on its website:Updated District Response to YouTube Video
The Greece Central School District has been touched by the outpouring of support for Karen and we share the country’s outrage over the behavior displayed on the videos. We are deeply sorry that Karen was subjected to that kind of treatment.
Based on our internal investigation, and the interviews conducted by members of the Greece Police Department, we have identified four Athena Middle School students as participants in the incident. Certainly the behavior of the students on the video is a clear violation of our district’s Code of Conduct and will not be tolerated. Disciplinary action to the fullest extent appropriate under New York Education Law will be taken against all involved. However, as we stated yesterday, it is not appropriate for the district to discuss the specific disciplinary consequences that will result for any individual student.
I need to stress that we have a specific process that we must follow before imposing discipline on students. Discipline for public school students in New York State is handled under specific procedures set forth in the New York Education law. In the event that a district is seeking a suspension of more than five days, the district must prove the student’s violation of its Code of Conduct in a due process hearing before a hearing officer. If the student is found guilty, the hearing officer makes a recommendation for an appropriate period of suspension to the superintendent of schools. Each case is determined based upon the actions engaged in by the student as well as consideration of a student’s prior disciplinary record.
As is shown by this unfortunate incident, bullying is not a new issue to those who work in schools. The Greece Central School District has a strong bullying prevention model that includes a district response team, training programs for staff and students including the Olweus Bullying Program, Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports and a Bullying Reporting Process. In March, we also hired a special counselor to train all staff in bullying prevention models. In fact, she is holding a previously scheduled training for administrators as we speak.
The behaviors displayed on this video are not representative of all Greece Central students and this is certainly not what we would like our students to be known for. We have worked very hard to educate students on the damaging impact of bullying and will continue to do so.
We have received thousands of phone calls and emails from people across the country wanting to convey their thoughts. People are outraged by what has happened and they feel the students should be punished. While we agree that discipline is warranted, we cannot condone the kind of vigilante justice some people are calling for. This is just another form of bullying and cannot be tolerated.
We all need to take a step back and look at how we treat each other. It is our job as educators and parents to teach children and lead by example. We encourage parents to use this as a springboard to begin a dialogue with their children about bullying, respect and consequences. As a school community, we will continue to take the lead in bullying education and we encourage all students and employees subjected to bullying and harassment to report it as soon as it occurs and to take a stand if they are witness to bullying in their lives.
What do you think should be done to the boys making the comments? What has happened to civility—how can people of any age be so cruel? Please tell us in the comments.