Karen Klein, a 68-year-old school bus monitor in upstate New York, quickly became a viral sensation yesterday, although probably not in the way that she would have liked.
Klein was the victim of bullying by a group of children she was supposed to be supervising. The students themselves videotaped their taunts and malicious words towards her in an extremely jarring video that goes on for 10 minutes.
(Note: Extremely foul language)
Klein told the Rochester newspaper that as the abuse was happening, she was trying to ignore it, "to black it out, big time." NPR noted that Klein didn't report the incident because as she says, "it was almost the last day of school. ... Why bother? What good's it going to do?'"
On Thursday afternoon, police said Klein had decided not to press charges against the students, Fox News reported.
“Obviously we are upset with what we saw in the video, both as parents and police officers,” Greece police Capt. Steve Chatterton told reporters during a press conference. “But at this time, she has decided she does not want to press criminal charges.”
The New York Daily News noted that Klein told ABC affiliate WHAM that the most hurtful comment came when students said her family should kill themselves. Her son committed suicide 10 years ago.
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But Klein may be having the last laugh. An online effort to raise vacation money for Klein has taken off and now has turned into a six-figure windfall.
Max Sidorov, a 25-year-old Toronto nutritionist, found the video Wednesday morning. He then set up a donation page on Indigogo.com and quickly gained worldwide attention. As of 10 a.m. on Thursday morning, the page had raised more than $150,000 for the grandmother of eight.
Sidorov was shocked by the quick outpouring of support for Klein. "It is just huge. I thought it would get a few thousand dollars, maybe. But maybe she could retire on this," he told USA Today.
ABC reported that police have interviewed four of the students, but no arrests have been made. The school district said its bullying team is investigating, and the students will be disciplined.