This week a video of a Greece, NY school bus monitor being bullied by a group of vile students spread like wildfire across the Internet. The ten-minute video shows Karen Klein, 68, sitting in the back of the bus being verbally accosted and threatened by four seventh grade students from the Greece Central School District.
The abuse Klein took is appalling. The part-time bus monitor showed amazing restraint as three boys and a girl relentlessly abused her verbally. They told her that she was so fat that if they stabbed her, it would be akin to a knife going through butter. They told her that she was so ugly that her kids should kill themselves, not knowing that her son had committed suicide 10 years ago.
At one point, Klein removes her glasses to wipe away tears. She later said that she tried her best to ignore what they were saying, so as not to give them more ammunition. The bus driver didn’t intervene, stating that he didn’t hear what was going on. He paid a visit to Klein on Thursday to offer her an apology.
This video, while one of the most cringe-worthy I’ve seen in a long time, came as no surprise. I transferred to the Greece Central School District in the middle of eighth grade, staying until I graduated high school in 2001. The saddest thought to cross my mind during all of this was that this incident could be considered tame for a Greece school.
During one of the interviews Klein gave on Thursday, she stated that she had been the victim of this kind of abuse from students on several occasions. When asked why she had not reported it, she answered that she saw no point, believing that the district wouldn’t lift a finger to do anything about it.
Home to nearly 100,000, Greece is the largest suburb of Rochester, NY. Each of its four high schools are massively overcrowded. Fights and violence are a regular occurrence. Students regularly are taunted, harassed, and bullied. Instead of dealing with students appropriately, the district instead has employed a number of policies that have proven grossly ineffective.
The district enacted zero-tolerance policies to try and halt the bullying. Rather than curtailing it, this only made it possible for the victim to get suspended right along with those that bullied them. The district also thought that a brilliant way to deal with this behavior was to institute a ‘no touching’ policy. Anyone that shakes hands, high-fives or gives a hug to another student in the hallways is subjected to an immediate detention. How stupid.
Greece Central School District is the epitome of everything wrong with American public education. Comfortable, protected teachers cannot be bothered to dispense common sense judgment. Schools are more concerned with taking home sports and music competition trophy’s than they are with making sure that students actually learn. The kids never fear discipline.
The district is scrambling after being caught with their pants down, promising to discipline the students to the “fullest extent” possible. No matter what they do, most would probably agree that the kids will be getting off easy.
For the children to be charged in family court according to New York State law, the alleged crime would have to be a misdemeanor or a felony. The most these four kids could be charged with is harassment, which in New York is only a violation. Klein informed Captain Steve Chatterton of the Greece Police Department that she isn’t planning to press charges.
These idiotic kids will probably never understand how lucky they were that someone like Karen Klein wanted to spend her time watching after them each day on the bus. Most people wouldn’t sit through the abuse she took once, much less several times, for $15,506 a year. She was there because she cared.
During the video, Klein tells the children that she tries to live by words on her purse. Her purse had words like ‘hope,’ ‘joy,’ and ‘love’ inscribed on it. She said that they mean a great deal to her. They should to everyone.
There are two silver linings hidden within this depressing tale. An Indiegogo website was set up to take donations for Karen to send her on a vacation. The initial goal of the website was to raise $5,000. After two days, over $400,000 had been raised. With 28 days left to donate, Karen will definitely be going on vacation.
The second silver lining that people can take away from this is that people with a heart like Karen Klein still exist, and are still trying to make the lives of others better.