NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – The middle school students who tormented a bus aide in Upstate New York have been suspended from school for one year, according to the Greece School District.
The students insulted Karen Klein and made fun of her weight and looks — calling her “fat” and saying she looks “like a troll” — and threatened to egg her house.
At one point, a student even says Klein’s family killed themselves to not be anywhere near her. Klein’s eldest son committed suicide a decade ago.
The incident was captured in a 10-minute cell phone video by one of the students and posted to YouTube, drove Klein to tears.
At least 10 minutes of the bullying was recorded, but it is unclear how long the taunting lasted.
The following is a partial statement issued from the Greece School District:
“Greece Central School District Superintendent Barbara Deane-Williams today announced that the due process requirements have been met and the district is able to release the result of their investigation and the assignment of disciplinary consequences for the four Athena Middle School students involved in the mistreatment of their bus monitor.
“Following individual meetings this week with school and district administrators, each family waived their right to a hearing and agreed to one-year suspensions from school and regular bus transportation. The Greece Central School District is legally required to provide all students ages 5 to 16 with an education, therefore, during the 2012-13 school year, the students who have been suspended will be transferred to the district Reengagement Center, located in a non-school facility. This alternative education program keeps middle school students on track academically while providing a structured opportunity for students to take responsibility for their actions by completing community service hours and receiving formal instruction related to conduct and behavior that prepares them for a productive future. The program includes a strong parent involvement component.
“Each student will be required to complete 50 hours of community service with senior citizens and will complete a formal program in bullying prevention, respect and responsibility. In accordance with district policy, if at 30 weeks into the school year the students have completed the conditions of their discipline and are in good standing at the Reengagement Center, they can apply for early readmission to Athena Middle School.”
On a positive note, the 10 minutes of humiliation led to action and an outpouring of support for Klein.
Since the video Klein has turned into an Internet celebrity and a fund was set up to raise $5,000 to send Klein on vacation.
That $5,000 quickly surged to more than $650,000 and Klein said she plans on donating some of the money to charity.
“They say I’m such a great person, and they love me, but they don’t even know me,” Klein said.
Last week, a father of one of the bullies apologized to Klein.
The apology was a start for Klein. Robert Helm is the father of one of the four Athena Middle School seventh grade boys who picked on Klein on the bus.
“There’s no excuse and we’re going to get to the bottom of that, but it really broke my heart and I shed a lot of tears thinking about that whole thing. I just want you to know that my family, all of us, are deeply saddened by this whole thing and we’re going to get it right,” Helm said.
The humiliation was recorded, posted on YouTube, and then viewed around the world.
WARNING: OFFENSIVE LANGUAGE
From the video also came serious backlash as some of the boys are reportedly receiving death threats. That upset Klein, who has been getting calls from people touched by what happened to her.
Klein said she doesn’t want criminal charges brought against the boys and she doesn’t want them expelled from school. She said she thinks community service might be the appropriate punishment. She said she also wants an apology from the students, but she’s not quite ready to hear from them yet.
“I would rather wait a while,” she said.
Klein previously said she thinks the boys who tormented her should be banned from taking the bus for a year.
Klein said she’s willing to go back on the bus, but maybe also take that vacation America has planned for her.
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