Karen Klein, the elderly school bus monitor who was verbally assaulted by a number of students from Athena Middle School in Greece, New York, spoke with several local news outlets today after a video of the shocking incident went viral.
"Sometimes you expect kids to be like they acted, but not that bad," the grandmother of eight told WSYR. "They weren't that bad all year. That one day, I don't know what possessed them."
Klein has been an employee of the Greece Central School District for the past 23 years — 20 years as a bus driver, and the last three as a bus monitor.
She told the Democrat and Chronicle she couldn't hear all the epithets being hurled at her because she is hearing impaired. It wasn't until she saw the video that she realized how bad some of them were.
She said the most painful taunt was a vile suggestion from one of the kids that her child should kill themselves. Klein's son committed suicide ten years ago.
"I can't believe it happened," she said. "It was just plain mean. Nobody should have to put up with that."
Many people around the world agreed with Klein, and expressed their support on various social network sites. Laurel Heiden, the school district's spokeswoman, said phone calls and emails from as far away as Australia have been pouring in all day.
A fundraiser set up to "give Karen...a vacation of a lifetime" blasted past its goal of $5,000 in a matter of hours. It currently stands at nearly $30,000, and may ultimately allow Klein to take a permanent vacation — something she's said she would do if she suddenly came "into lots of money."
Meanwhile, police in Greece have launched an investigation, and several students have already been questioned. School officials vowed to mete out punishment to those involved. "All students found to have a role in this incident will face disciplinary action," said Heiden.
Asked about the kind of disciplinary action she'd like to see, Klein suggested the students be grounded for the entire summer, "maybe all year." And she would also "love an apology."
[screengrab via Democrat and Chronicle]