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Bullied 68 Year Old Grandmother on Bus & What Is Happening To Her Now?
While Kentucky calls bullying a gay rights issue, and refused to pass House Bill 336 – another viral video is screaming across the Internet and Facebook accounts like wildfire. It is that of Karen Klien, a 68 year old Grandmother who lives in Greece, N.Y. She was acting as a bus monitor, riding the bus with good intentions to make sure the kids behave in a civil manner, instead she was bullied - at least for a full 10+ minutes, while someone filmed the entire episode.
What started out as a post on MY Facebook page, peaked my curiosity enough to begin watching the video. I had read about it in days prior, but didn’t have a chance to watch it in full. I watched about five minutes of the video, before having to turn it off – having heard enough insults, jeers, and physical “harassment” on this Senior Citizen by young punk asses…. I just had to turn it off.
The kids on the bus were cruel, calling her “fat ass” and physically touching her hair and arms, and all the while Karen sat there on the bus and did what anyone in that situation would do…. she cried. The words cut through her during the long bus ride, and insults and laughter continued for what was too long for me – and what had to feel like an infinity to her. For those of you who have NOT seen the video, I am going to post it here, but please be advised it is tough to watch, and is very infuriating.
The worst part is that now the incident is full on outrage, and people in the community have taken action – reverse bullying, which Klein is not agreeing with either. Police said Karen Klein does not want her young tormenters to face criminal charges, partly because of the storm of criticism leveled at the boys from the Rochester suburb of Greece after the video went viral.
“They’ve received death threats,” Greece Police Capt. Steve Chatterton said Thursday. “Their families have been threatened. We have custody of one of their cellphones, and he had over 1,000 missed calls and 1,000 text messages threatening him. And he’s 13 years old. That must stop.”
The verbal abuse was captured in a 10-minute cellphone video recorded Monday by a student of Athena Middle School in suburban Rochester and later posted to YouTube. The video shows Klein trying her best to ignore the stream of profanity, insults and outright threats directed at her.
One student taunted: “You don’t have a family because they all killed themselves because they don’t want to be near you.” Klein’s oldest son killed himself 10 years ago. (Source)
A press release from the Greece N.Y. Police Department has this to say:
June 21, 2012
“The Town of Greece offices have been inundated with phone calls and emails regarding the incident aboard a Greece Central School District bus. We have received phone calls from not only our own concerned residents but also residents from across the state and nation. We too are outraged by the behavior of this group of students and want to emphasize that the actions of a few do not reflect our community as a whole.
The Town of Greece is a community of nearly 100,000, comprised of people who are kind, respectful neighbors and hardworking people. Greece Central School District is one of three districts which serve our community. All three districts have extraordinary students who are doing great things inside and outside the classroom on a daily basis.
The Greece Central School District and the Greece Police Department are working together to obtain evidence and review all of the information so that appropriate action will be taken in this dreadful incident. The Greece Police Department, the Monroe County District Attorney’s office and the victim will make the final determination as to whether or not any criminal charges will be filed now or in the future. With regard to disciplinary actions, the Town Government does not have jurisdiction over Greece Central School District with regard to any resulting discipline, those determinations rest solely with the District and the School Board.
I want to also take this opportunity to commend Karen Klein for her strength and courage in having to endure such treatment. Her response to their bullying is an example of the type of people that make our community great. The outpouring of care and concern that she has received from our community toward her is indicative of the depth and breadth of this great Town, not the actions of those aboard Bus 784.”
There is a BRIGHT side to this story after all, because Karen Klein has received over $561, 341 for her torment on the bus, donated by OUTRAGED people from all over the world, and Karen’s measly $15,000 dollar a year salary now has an uplifting turn. DONATE TO KAREN’S VACATION FUND HERE
If you are more outspoken and wish to get involved, or were moved by the video – visit the Athena Middle School website by clicking here.
You can also contact the school by using the information below:
Bus number: #784
School’s fax number: (585) 966-4039
Principal of the school’s E-mail address: David.Richardson@greece.k12.ny.us
The Principal’s statement is as follows:
I am deeply saddened and embarrassed by the actions demonstrated recently by some of my students. I am sorry Karen has been subjected to this kind of student behavior. I am working with Capt. Chatterton and an investigator from the Greece Police Department, as well as, our head of security at the Athena campus and District leadership to investigate this matter and to determine each student’s specific role. Disciplinary actions to the fullest extent will be taken against all those involved.
Having been born and raised in Greece, a graduate of Greece Athena and now the Principal of Athena Middle School, I, alongside my colleagues, are driven to educate and support our students. I am working to ensure that my students are successful, have the appropriate study habits and skills and are respectful, responsible and productive both in the classroom and in the greater community.
At this time, I ask for your support and understanding that we are doing everything we can to understand the events that occurred and that the district is working to address this issue with all staff to make sure an incident like this does not happen again.
The website also goes on to say:
The Greece Cenral 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.
Interestingly enough, for those who live in Kentucky – you may want to re-visit our lawmakers who didn’t pass an anti-bullying law in Kentucky this past session, and maybe use Karen Klein as a prime example of how bullying can hurt anyone, and is not just a gay rights issue.
Donating To Karen,
Jake A. Wheat