Rochester, NY (written by Meagan M. McDermott/Rochester Democrat and Chronicle) -- If there's one thing school transportation professionals would like to see come out of the Karen Klein incident, it is this: more swift and serious discipline for students who misbehave on school buses.
"The one thing I'm hearing more frequently in the week or so since (the Klein incident) happened, it is that drivers and attendants are not in any consistent fashion getting the support they're needing," said Peter Mannella, executive director of the New York state Association for Pupil Transportation.
Without support and follow-through from their school districts, many drivers and attendants may not be reporting behavior problems on their buses, he said.
"What I'm hearing is there's a lack of follow-up and that occurs enough that drivers are saying 'why bother?' " he said. "The disconcerting part of hearing that is that the reporting is intended to protect the rest of the kids on the bus and the driver."
In the video recorded last week on Greece Central School District bus No. 784, Klein endured 10 minutes of brutal, profane taunting and teasing at the hands of four students. The video was posted to YouTube early Wednesday and went viral within hours.
Klein, a 68-year-old grandmother of eight who has worked for the Greece schools for 23 years, became a media star in the ensuing days. She's appeared on the "Today Show," "Fox & Friends," "Good Morning America," "Anderson Cooper 360" and more. She's been featured in People Magazine online, been interviewed by the BBC, was offered a deal to make a movie of her life and given a trip for nine to Disneyland.
An online fundraiser started last week to raise enough money to send her on a vacation has collected more than $650,000 -- almost enough for her to buy six school buses of her own. It's the fastest and largest fundraiser ever hosted by crowd funding site Indiegogo.com, said company spokesman Kelsey Judd.
In an appearance Monday morning on NBC's "Today" program, Klein said she would like to invest some of the funds, help her children financially and give some of the money to charity.
She has also received apology statements from some of the students involved in the incident, as well as their parents.
But as the outpourings of support continue, some people wonder why she's being so rewarded for failing to stop what was happening to her.
"Wasn't it her job to report bullying?" said Bob Adams of Brighton, N.Y. "What's the point of the school district having a policy if you're not going to do something about it? What about if those kids were doing that to another kid on the bus? Would she have stopped that?"
Klein has said she did not report the incident because it was the last day of school and she didn't think the children would be disciplined. And, she said, the kids were "not usually that bad." She's also said she is hard of hearing and didn't hear many of the taunts.
District officials said the incident should have been reported.
Generally speaking, school spokeswoman Laurel Heiden said, staff are required to report incidents of bad student behavior and can be disciplined for failing to do so.
"Any incident is supposed to be reported when the incident occurs," she said. "For a bus monitor, an incident report is turned in after their shift -- that's what's supposed to happen -- then the report is logged and sent to the school and the school calls the student in."
From there, she said, school officials would investigate the report and determine an appropriate disciplinary action against the student.
"But this incident was reported after the fact," she said. The incident happened on June 18 but was not officially reported until Klein was summoned to the district's transportation garage Wednesday, hours after the video had already gone viral online. Discipline against the students is pending.
Mannella said bus driver and monitor training may need to be revamped.
"We have to ask if it is enough training or is it the right training," he said. "We have to ask if we have prepared the Karen Kleins of the world who do ride our buses with the tools they need to handle something like that?"