Some students on Bus No. 784 were calling her names on Monday. One said she looked like a troll. Another told her she didn’t have a family because they all committed suicide.
In the 10-minute video that has since gone viral with nearly 2.7 million views (so far), upstate New York bus monitor Karen Klein, 68, takes the teasing and taunts sitting down and without raising her voice.
And that took “a lot of will power,” the Greece Central School District employee told the Today show Thursday morning. “I’m not usually that calm.”
The group of unidentified middle school students who brought Klein to tears are under investigation, although disciplinary action will have to wait until September when school is back in session. (The school district didn’t name the students because they are juveniles.)
But some of those who have seen the video – and heard the hurtful words directed at the grandmother of eight and widow whose son committed suicide 10 years ago – have taken action in a different, more positive way.
An online fundraising effort to send Klein off on “a vacation of a lifetime” has long surpassed its $5,000 goal. As of Thursday evening, some $400,000 (and counting) had been raised.
“I’m so amazed,” she said. “I’ve gotten the nicest letters, emails, Facebook messages. It’s like, wow – there’s a whole world out there I didn’t know.”
As for the students who bullied her, Klein, who worked as a bus driver for 20 years and has been a bus monitor for the past three, said she doesn’t want them to be punished. Instead, she hopes that parents see the videos, hear the words and talk to their kids.
As for those students’ parents, she has a message.
“I’m sorry that your sons acted the way they did,” she said. “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.”
By Alison Schwartz