ABC News’ John Schriffen reports:
The New York school bus monitor who was seen on video being cruelly taunted by the middle-school students in her care says she plans to keep her job and just wants the students to apologize.
“That’s not like me,” Karen Klein told ABC News when asked whether she might resign from her job as a bus monitor for the Greece School District in Rochester, N.Y. “I’m not a real vindictive person. I just know I want something to happen to make them [the students] realize what they did.”
Klein, a 68-year-old mother of four and grandmother of eight, was riding on a school bus with several students from the district’s Athena Middle School in Rochester on Monday when she was subjected to mean and cruel mockery by several students.
In a 10-minute video that was uploaded to YouTube on Tuesday by one of the students on the bus, several students can be heard taunting Klein, telling her she was a “fat ass,” “old ass,” dumb, poor and sweaty. Most of the voices appear to be male, and their comments toward Klein are riddled with profanity.
“I was just was trying to ignore them,” Klein said. “Usually I sit right in back, and I should have that day, but I sat one seat ahead so there was one boy in back of me and one boy in front of me. They just kept it up. They thought it was funny.”
In the video, the students touch her, comment about her hearing aid and make crude sexual references. One asks for Klein’s address so he can go to her home and urinate all over her door, and another discusses stabbing and cutting Klein. They are also heard asking her if she has herpes and if she lives in a trailer.
At one point, she is seen taking off her sunglasses and wiping at her eyes.
“Are you sweating? Karen, Karen! Are you sweating?” one student is heard asking her. She shakes her head, and the student adds: ”Then why is there water on your face?”
“I’m crying,” she replies.
At one point, when Klein tells the students “unless you have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all,” one student replied: “How about you shut the f**k up?”
Klein has worked at the school district for 20 years, mostly as a bus driver. She said this verbal attack was not the first time she had been taunted.
“When I was a driver I had a problem with middle-school kids,” she said. “I’m hoping for something to come of it. I want them to know that they did wrong.”
One boy’s comment was particularly cruel: “You don’t have a family because they all killed themselves because they didn’t want to be near you.”
Klein’s oldest son committed suicide 10 years ago, according to a report by ABC New affiliate 13 WHAM TV in Rochester.
The 10-minute video of Klein’s abuse has been viewed more than 1 million times and sparked a fundraising appeal in hopes of giving Klein a vacation and possibly getting her off the bus permanently.
As of early this morning, a petition posted on indiegogo.com indicated that more than $110,000 was donated to a fund for Klein, far overreaching the expected $5,000 with 30 days still to go in the online campaign. Of the more than 18,000 comments posted on YouTube, most appeared to uniformly condemn the students’ behavior.
“It does make me feel a whole lot better,” Klein said of the positive reaction. “I appreciated everything. I think it’s awesome.”
Police have interviewed four of the students, but no arrests have been made. The Greece school district said its bullying team is investigating, and the students will be disciplined.
The father of one of the teenage boys who was involved in the bullying says his “heart broke” to see that his son was part of the abuse, but that the boys have suffered enough with their faces made public in the video.
“My family’s received death threats,” Robert Helms told ABC News. “He’s a 13-year-old kid. It was a stupid mistake and he’s paying for it but I just think it’s a little out of control.”