GREECE, N.Y. — School district officials have identified four middle school students as participants in the harassment of school bus monitor Karen Klein, an incident that sparked international attention.
A passenger on the bus captured video of the profane taunting of Klein last week and posted it on YouTube.
The Greece Central School District said in a statement that it has been "touched by the outpouring of support for Karen, and we share the country’s outrage over the behavior displayed on the videos. We are deeply sorry that Karen was subjected to that kind of treatment."
The four Athena Middle School students were identified based on the district's internal investigation and interviews conducted by local police.
District officials said that "disciplinary action to the fullest extent appropriate under New York education law will be taken against all involved," noting that they would not disclose "the specific disciplinary consequences that will result for any individual student."
Discipline for public school students in New York is handled under specific procedures set forth in the state education law.
If a district seeks a suspension of more than five days, it must prove the student’s violation of its code of conduct in a due process hearing before a hearing officer. If the student is found guilty, the hearing officer makes a recommendation to the superintendent for an appropriate period of suspension.
The Greece Central School District noted in the statement that it has a bullying prevention model that includes a district response team and training programs for staff and students. In March, the district also hired a special counselor to train all staff in bullying prevention models.
"We have received thousands of phone calls and e-mails from people across the country wanting to convey their thoughts," district officials added. "People are outraged by what has happened, and they feel the students should be punished. While we agree that discipline is warranted, we cannot condone the kind of vigilante justice some people are calling for. This is just another form of bullying and cannot be tolerated.
"It is our job as educators and parents to teach children and lead by example. We encourage parents to use this as a springboard to begin a dialogue with their children about bullying, respect and consequences."
The district also encouraged students and employees who are subjected to bullying and harassment "to report it as soon as it occurs and to take a stand if they are witness to bullying in their lives."
The New York Association for Pupil Transportation also addressed the incident and pledged to work with state and local officials to enhance training to help bus drivers and monitors respond to such situations.