It doesn’t pay to be a bully. A week after an excruciating video of four middle school boys attacking 68-year-old school bus monitor Karen Klein with vicious verbal abuse went viral, the school district has announced their punishment: A one-year suspension for all four involved, plus 50 hours of community service working with the elderly, and mandatory participation in a bullying prevention program.
“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,” said the Greece, New York, school district, in a statement.
Klein, on the other hand, is taking her daughters and six grandchildren to Disneyland, courtesy of Southwest airlines. She will also receive more than $676,600 in donations made by more than 31,000 people, thanks to an online campaign that originally sought to raise $5,000 to send Klein on vacation. The campaign, which appears on online fundraising website IndieGoGo, still has more than two weeks left before it expires and the money transfers directly to Klein’s bank account.
While Klein has appeared on a slew of television shows, including “Today,” “Inside Edition,” and “Anderson Cooper 360,” the boys and their families have been bombarded with all types of attacks, including death threats, from an angered public. Klein and her family have asked that the vitriol directed at the boys stop.
“Between all of us, we don’t feel that’s right by any means,” Amanda Romig, Klein’s daughter, told CNN. “We would like people to stop harassing the family and the kids. That’s another form of bullying.”
A father of one of the boys, 13-year-old Wesley, told Anderson Cooper that his son was “pretty depressed” and shocked by the public outcry caused by the 10-minute video. He said his son has learned a lesson that will stick with him and his family forever.
“I think the lesson’s learned,” said the father. “This whole thing that we’ve been through is going to scar our family for life. This is life-changing.”
Despite the overwhelming show of support for Klein, she too has been met with some negative attention. Around the Web, you’ll find commenters expressing their disgust that the grandmother will receive such large chunk of money — more than 43 times her annual salary of about $15,500 — and that the money could have been used to save countless lives in developing and impoverished parts of the world.
As far as the money goes, Klein has indicated that she will likely retire, and she is considering donating a portion of the money to charities that help children with autism and Downs syndrome, two diseases that have affected members of Klein’s family.
“Once again [Klein] would like to thank all of you for your love and support,” wrote Romig in an update on the IndieGoGo campaign page. “And thank everyone for their positive and negative comments as she says everyone is entitled to their own opinions.. thank everyone soooo much.”
So, what do you think: Was the boys’ punishment too much, or not enough? Should they have been taken out of school for a whole year, or does that simply exacerbate the problem? If you need a reminder as to how this whole thing started, here is the video. Just be warned: It is profanity-filled, and may be — should be — hard to watch.