$682,000 and trips to Disneyland, New Orleans and a Disney Cruise?
The wheels on bus 784 of the Greece Central School District in upstate New York have stopped turning for the summer and soon former bus monitor Karen Klein will head off on one of her three vacations. This is, of course, after the 68 year-old mother and grandmother deposits her $682,000 tax-free check from Indiegogo.com on Friday, July 20.
What am I talking about? Ask any school superintendent across the United States and they'll tell you... Karen Klein is the newest chapter of their developing school bullying policy.
From The Today Show on NBC to Anderson Cooper 360° on CNN, we've heard her story this summer and at first I was just as shocked and disgusted as the other 8,272,494 people who watched the "Making the bus monitor cry" video on YouTube.com.
The video is one of three filmed in June 2012 which ultimately focused on a 23-year bus driver and monitor named Karen Klein who was targeted for bullying by four middle school boys. In the third video the boys taunt and viciously bully Klein for ten minutes about her size, appearance, age and intelligence. They even tell her that if she were their mother they'd commit suicide. Unbeknownst to the bullies, Ms. Klein's eldest son committed suicide ten years ago.
Being a mother and grandmother as well as a person of size, I was brought to tears as I watched the boys poke Klein and call her names. I was angry as I heard them make fun of her appearance and perceived financial abilities. This even moved me to donate to the vacation campaign that was started on her behalf.
Within days after the video went viral, Max Sidorov, a nutritionist, author and Ukrainian immigrant living in Toronto started a campaign at fundraising site Indiegogo.com with a goal of $5,000, to help give Klein a vacation. Soon the fund had surpassed half a million dollars, and by June 29, over $670,000. According to the Indiegogo Website, Klein will be receiving all the money raised until the scheduled end of the fundraiser on July 20, 2012.
On his show the CNN anchor, Anderson Cooper, announced that he and Southwest Airlines are paying for a trip for Klein and nine people of her choice to Disneyland for a three-night visit in August. Country music star Tim McGraw is also flying Klein to New Orleans to see one of his shows while an anonymous donor has paid for a Disney Cruise.
The video prompted an investigation on the part of school officials and local police. Klein stated that she would not press charges against the students, partly because of the flood of death threats and criticism aimed at them.
On June 29, the school district announced that the boys would be suspended for one full academic year. Each boy would be required to complete 50 hours of community service with senior citizens and complete a formal program in bullying prevention.
Throughout the past month something else about the video has been bothering me and it wasn't until I started reading some of the 134,914 posted responses on YouTube that I figured out why.
Klein was hired by the school district to monitor the kids on the bus. She has 20 years experience as a bus driver and three as monitor. The job description requires a monitor to maintain order on buses by enforcing district policy governing student behavior and by reporting the disruptive behavior.
If not for her own benefit, but even more so for the safety of the other children on the bus, she had a responsibility to take control of the situation and affirm her authority. Instead, Klein tolerated the abuse, performing none of her duties and leading by the worst kind of example. By ignoring the abuse, she showed the other children that there isn't any hope against the bullies. "If a grown-up can't get them to stop, what makes me think I can?"
Klein sent the wrong message to both the bullies as well as the other children. Her lack of action told the bullies they had the power; it also told the other children that they had none. I don't call that a job performance worthy of a paycheck, let alone a bonus of more than a half million dollars.
Nobody should have to put up with what Klein did... at work, at home or anywhere. It went far beyond teasing. But if she had been doing her job - the first time, the other two videos wouldn't have happened.
She needs to ask herself if she'd want a bus monitor to sit back and let the bullies walk all over an adult on her grandchild's bus? Is that the message she wants her grandchildren to learn? She should take the vacations but donate the majority of the money to a nonprofit that is helping to put an end to bullying.
- Wednesday, 18 July 2012
- Posted in Categories: : Ginger Costen's From This Corner