|FILE - In this June 28, 2012 file photo, bus monitor Karen Klein, of Greece, N.Y., holds flowers during an award ceremony in her honor at a radio station, in Boston. Klein, who was bullied on a bus by four seventh-graders, says she's satisfied that they're being suspended for a year. (AP Photo/Steven Senne, File)|
NY school bus monitor 'fine' with bully punishment
NEW YORK—The upstate New York school bus monitor who was bullied by four seventh-graders says she's satisfied that they're being suspended for a year.
Speaking one day after the boys' punishment was announced, Karen Klein told The Associated Press on Saturday that she wants to meet with the boys who tormented her.
"Oh yes, I would like to talk to them!" said the 68-year-old, speaking from her home in Rochester. "I want to ask them why they did it."
What the four boys did was captured on video, mercilessly taunting Klein as she sat on the bus, gradually breaking down in tears.
On Friday, the school system in the Rochester suburb of Greece suspended the four middle school students for a year, keeping them from regular bus transportation.
How does Klein feel about this punishment?
"It's fine with me," she told the AP.
Klein said they'll still be going to an alternative school -- "they won't be just sitting at home doing nothing."
But the best part of her ordeal going public, and the resulting school action, "is that they have to do community service -- for senior citizens," she said, her voice rising with emotion.
"I'm so glad everyone out there knows about this," she added, sounding upbeat as she spoke to the AP minutes after returning from Boston and a much needed, four-day vacation that followed the flurry of attention raining on her from across the country.
Klein, who is hard of hearing, spoke by telephone with the help of her adult son and daughter, who repeated questions that she then answered herself.
Another benefit of the video of the incident going viral, she said, "is that it's putting people into action, making them talk to their children, making them teach them what they should not do."
The cellphone video posted online by a fellow student drew millions of viewers. The video shows Klein trying her best to ignore a stream of profanity, insults and outright threats.
One student taunted: "You don't have a family because they all killed themselves because they don't want to be near you." Klein's oldest son killed himself 10 years ago.
Among the mounds of messages she received this week were letters of apology from three of the boys and their families.
She said earlier in the week that she didn't feel the youths were sincere.
But on Saturday, Klein said she accepts the newest letter she received several days ago -- from the fourth boy.
His parents dropped it off with flowers.
"He said he was sorry, and that he didn't mean to do it," Klein said. "And I think he means it."
Sounding relieved, she said that none of the students will be showing up on her school bus in the fall -- should she choose to return to work.
The support she's received wasn't only verbal.
A fund drive that began with a goal of $5,000 to help Klein take a nice vacation raised more than $667,000 as of Friday.
She hasn't decided yet whether to return to her job
"I don't know, I just don't know," she said, adding, "I'm going to invest and I don't need to work."
But Klein, a grandmother of eight, including one with Down syndrome, said she'll donate part of the money to support research.
And she wants to pay off all her bills.