Police: Bullied bus monitor won't seek criminal charges against students
A New York bus monitor who was berated and bullied by a group of middle school students will not press charges against the four seventh-graders, police said Thursday.
Karen Klein, 68, is seen in a 10-minute viral video attempting to ignore the verbal attacks by students on a bus operated by the Greece Central School District, near Rochester, N.Y. Children on the bus hurl repeated insults and threats at the grandmother, calling her fat and at one point suggesting that her children commit suicide. Klein told "Fox & Friends" during an appearance Thursday that her eldest son did, in fact, take his life 10 years ago.
"I did not hear that part then, but yeah, it was uncalled for, that's for sure," Klein told host Steve Doocy.
Capt. Steve Chatterton of the Greece Police Department said Klein informed investigators that she will not seek criminal charges against the four students from Athena Middle School in Rochester.
“Obviously we are upset with what we saw in the video, both as parents and police officers,” Chatterton told reporters during a press conference Thursday afternoon. “But at this time, she has decided she does not want to press criminal charges.”
In New York, Chatterton said in order to charge a 13-year-old in Family Court, the alleged crime must a misdemeanor or a felony. Harassment is a violation and does not meet that threshold, he said.
“So we’re still working … on whether it rose to the level of a crime,” he said, adding that Klein has expressed she’d prefer if school officials mete out punishment.
The four boys seen in the video have not denied their role in the incident, Chatterton said. Investigators have spoken to all four of them, as well as their parents.
“No one has denied accountability,” he said.
Greece Central School District officials, meanwhile, promised to discipline the four students to the “fullest extent” allowable following an extensive investigation.
John Auberger, the town supervisor of Greece, N.Y., a town of roughly 100,000 residents, said officials have received calls from across the country regarding the incident.
“We too are outraged by the actions of this group of students,” Auberger said, who commended Klein’s restraint as seen on the video.
“Her response to the bullying is an example to the type of people that make our community great,” he said.
Meanwhile, Klein, of Rochester, has received more than a quarter-million dollars in online donations in hopes that the grandmother of eight will take a “vacation of a lifetime,” according to fundraising site Indiegogo.com. As of late Thursday, more than $400,000 had been received for Klein and the video had been viewed on YouTube more than 2.6 million times.
Klein's daughter, Michelle, said her mother has worked in the school system for more than 20 years as a bus driver and now a bus monitor. Klein, meanwhile, has said she wants to return to her job, but on a different bus route and with an apology from the students, MyFoxBoston.com reports.
Representatives at Indiegogo.com told FoxNews.com that they have been in contact with Klein. The campaign will continue through July 20 and it's unclear whether she'll have to pay taxes on the amount.
"Any amount raised will go directly to her," a spokeswoman told FoxNews.com.
The outpouring of support for Klein follows a recent surge in awareness of bullying that has brought the issue from the classroom to the stage and screen to the White House.
In April, the documentary film "Bully" examined the problem by following five kids over the course of a school year. Months later, after 14-year-old Jamey Rodemeyer of suburban Buffalo killed himself in September after complaining about being bullied about his sexuality, pop singer Lady Gaga decried the loss of another life to bullying, tweeting to millions of followers that she'd take her concerns to President Barack Obama.
Also this year, the White House held a conference on bullying prevention, estimating that it affects 13 million students, or about a third of those attending school. Obama said he hoped to "dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up. It's not."
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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