A disturbing 10-minute video uploaded to YouTube Tuesday, showing middle school students bullying a bus monitor for the Greece, New York, Central School District, Karen Huff Klein, has sparked an investigation by both the school district and the police department.
The school district is located in Monroe County near Rochester and is the ninth-largest district in New York State.
The incident allegedly happened on Monday. District Assistant Superintendent Deborah Hoeft told reporters that school authorities have confirmed the woman is an employee and that the school bus was carrying students.
Hoeft said after school officials were made aware of the video the district's bullying and violence response team was activated to conduct an investigation.
"We have discovered other similar videos on YouTube and are working to identify all of the students involved," Hoeft said. "The bus involved in this incident was carrying middle school students, all of whom are juveniles."
Hoeft added that though the students' behavior was "inexcusable" school officials are worried for the safety of all those who were involved in the incident.
"We urge patience to allow us to investigate and determine the appropriate discipline," she said. "Currently our district security staff and police are interviewing all of those involved."
The police have also assigned an investigator who will work with the school in the ongoing investigation.
Hoeft said though she cannot speak on what specific punishments will be meted out to those who are implicated in the incident, they will in fact face "strong disciplinary action."
According to the Democrat and Chronicle, Klein is a grandmother of eight living in Greece. She worked for the district for 23 years and was a bus driver for 20 of those years. Klein learned of the bullying video on Wednesday through Facebook. She watched it at the district bus garage. It was then that Klein, who is hearing impaired, really heard all the mocking she went through, according to the Democrat and Chronicle.
"It was like 'wow,'" she said. "I can't believe it happened ... It was just plain mean. Nobody should have to put up with that."
In the video, Klein can be seen wearing a blue top and sunglasses, sitting in the bus minding her own business. A group of students in the background can be heard calling her derogatory names such as "f--king fat ass," "dumb a--" and told her that she was so fat she occupied the entire seat. At one point, Klein took her glasses off and was told to put them back on because she is "looking like a troll."
Klein told the students that if they didn't have anything nice to say, then they shouldn't say anything at all.
Tears began rolling down her cheeks, but that didn't stop one student from teasing her about her "f---king ugly a-- earrings."
Not realizing that it was tears streaming down Klein's face, one student told the others to look at the sweat.
"She probably misses her box of Twinkies," a student ridiculed her.
Some of the other things they teased Klein about are too graphic to mention in this article.
On YouTube, the commenters were also upset at how the children treated the senior.
"She even tries to make them feel bad by showing them she's crying," wrote one user. "It goes right through them. They lack basic human empathy, caring more about themselves looking funny to each other than another human being's feelings and dignity."
Some commenters are even blaming the students' parents for their children's actions toward Klein.
"I hope these parents are really proud of their kids and I hope all names are published, make them go on TV and make a public apology," a user wrote.
Many others who watched the video were also outraged at the students' behavior and began speaking out about it.
A "Call To Arms" post was created on Reddit by user razorsheldon.
In the post the Reddit user wrote, "Now, as awful as this was, there was a silver lining in not only the universal condemnation of the actions of these kids, but also in a call for support for this poor woman. Her name is Karen, and she has been a widow for 17 years, has lived in the same town she grew up in and is about to have her 50th high school reunion in the same school district, and deserves so much better than the actions shown by those in this video. Let's figure out ways to show her that there are still good people out there..."
A fellow Reddit user also created a donations account for Klein. More than $266,000 has been raised as of 2:45 p.m. Thursday to send her on a vacation. There are still 30 days left to donate.
Greece Police Captain Steve Chatterton said he only watched three minutes of the video, but said it was "disturbing".
As for why she didn't report the students to a supervisor, Klein said the school year is almost out. She also told the Democrat and Chronicle that she didn't feel threatened, as the students "weren't always that bad."
Klein also doesn't want to see them criminally charged. She thinks grounding them for the summer will suffice. And of course, she said an apology wouldn't be so bad.
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