PUNKS ON THE BUS -- PART 2
The kids are savages.
We know that.
So let’s look at the other issues.
Like the complete failure of the Greece Central School district to discipline its students and maintain order on its buses.
It’s clear from the now-famous bullying videotape of bus monitor Karen Klein that order on that bus that day had completely broken down. It is also clear from the audacity of the punks and the passivity of the monitor that neither one believed there would be any accountability for the students’ conduct.
She didn’t shout for help. She didn’t radio the school. She didn’t alert the driver. She didn’t report it to administration. She didn’t even chastise or scold the students.
She just sat there and took it.
Which would be OK, if it weren’t her job to keep order on the bus.
Her actions – ignoring the punks’ taunts – seem to indicate that she preferred their abuse to the hassle of reporting their misconduct. Whatever procedure the school had in place for discipline problems on the bus was ignored by the person whose job it was to implement it.
And her attackers’ boldness indicates that they knew they wouldn’t get in trouble. They acted as if this sort of behavior was commonplace, and their impunity indicates they knew the monitor was powerless to hold them accountable.
Which speaks to a broken system.
On the bus, the idiots have free rein.
And that is a failing of the school.
What were its procedures for miscreants on the bus? How was discipline to be handled? How could things have gotten this far out of control?
Greece is at the center of an embarrassing international spectacle because the school’s permissive approach to discipline taught these particular idiots that they could do whatever their depraved imagination came up with.
And that should scare parents into demanding accountability not just of some 7th-grade punks, but of big-ticket administrators. If Greece Central School can’t protect its monitors, imagine what happens to its students.
Greece Central School must explain its system for assuring good conduct on school buses.
It may even need to explain why Karen Klein is a bus monitor. Though her service to the district seems to be long and honorable, the job of a bus monitor is to maintain order and to assist in the evacuation of the bus during an emergency. Monitors, for example, are required to be able to carry a 40-pound weight the length of the bus and carry it out the rear exit. That 40-pound weight is to simulate an unconscious child.
In this instance, the monitor was incapable of maintaining order. It is uncertain whether or not she could heft the 40 pounds.
Further, bus monitors are required to be able to communicate in spoken English. If Karen Klein, who wears hearing aids, could not hear most of the taunts of the students -- as she has told police and reporters -- then could she in an emergency truly communicate in spoken English?
None of that is a criticism of Karen Klein. But it does raise valid questions about whether the district had the right person in the right job to protect student safety.
Another part of this story is the odd financial jackpot aspect of it. Through the day yesterday, an online account set up by a Canadian collected money first by the tens of thousands and then by the hundreds of thousands. What was initially pitched as a “vacation fund” – presuming victims of verbal abuse need a vacation – will probably have collected a half a million dollars for Karen Klein by the end of today.
Certainly, the bus monitor will be grateful for money which will probably change her financial status for the rest of her life, but what does getting called names have to do with getting rich? Is the connection between sympathy and the checkbook so strong that we should now expect a regular crop of YouTube millionaires?
Could Karen Klein have imagined on Monday when she went to work that in three days she would be known to millions and have a windfall that could provide for her for the rest of her life?
Then there’s the aspect of charging the boys with a crime.
Contrary to the police department’s assertion that Karen Klein chose not to press charges against her tormenters, the fact is that neither she nor anyone else could press any sort of charges against them.
The only offense in New York law which the savages might have committed is second-degree harassment. Their conduct only fits that crime.
And they can’t be charged with that crime.
New York law says that minors can only be charged with misdemeanors and felonies.
And second-degree harassment is neither a misdemeanor nor a felony.
It is a violation.
Sort of like a speeding ticket.
To be charged with a violation in New York, you must be at least 16. These pukes are seventh-graders, that’s about 11 or 12.
So the conduct, as egregious as it was, when committed by people that young, is not chargeable under New York law.
Though it makes a good story, that a compassionate Karen Klein decided not to prosecute the students, it’s simply not true. It’s a defective law that let these punks escape responsibility, not a forgiving school bus monitor.
The police yesterday said that the students had received negative feedback from their classmates and others. One received more than a thousand text messages, all angry, some threatening.
These boys need the fear of God put in them. They need to feel a bit of what their words were intended to make the bus monitor feel.
The police captain at the press conference seemed to ask for sympathy for the perpetrators.
They made their bed, now they can lie in it.
To be honest, that could be their only hope of escaping the wreck their hatred seems to be preparing to make of their lives. Maybe being scared straight will make them decide to be something other than monsters.
So we’ll save our sympathy for the victim.
And we’ll hope that the school has the backbone to truly discipline in a manner necessary to give this misconduct a meaningful punishment. Too many of the quotes which have issued forth from the school administrator handling this matter have sounded like the same-old mumbo jumbo. The same old meaningless hand slap that leads young men to believe they can savage an elderly woman with impunity.
Meaningless drivel about the Bullying Response Team and the need for “dialogue on this important issue.” This isn’t an ad for another pep rally on bullying. It is a demand for improvement and accountability.
Beginning with the punks.
They must pay a price. It must be big. And they must start paying it now.
And the district must announce now what that punishment is. Pushing it off until the story fades is not satisfactory. Pushing it off until the story fades is cowardice and failed leadership.
So announce the punishment.
Acknowledge the lack of control on buses.
And find a way to assure this will never happen again.
- by Bob Lonsberry © 2012