The Weeping Bus Monitor: A Half-Million Dollars For Incompetence

Karen Klein is the 68- year-old bus monitor who is the unwilling star of a viral video (below) showing her being insulted and mocked by 12-year-olds on a school bus.

The video, which was uploaded to the internet by one of the mockers using his iPhone, has provoked an outpouring of indignation at the cruel conduct of the kids, with attendant pronouncements about the death of responsible parenting and how this younger generation has no respect for anyone. Meanwhile, Ms. Klein has been the beneficiary of one of those spontaneous outbreaks of generosity from people who won’t give to cancer research or to help feed the poor, but for whom the sight of an elderly woman weeping is just too much to bear. Over $500,00o has been raised online as a “vacation fund” for the former bus driver.

That’s a lot of money, I submit, to give to someone for not being able to do her job. Vacation fund? She was already on vacation, as far as I can see. Hearing radio callers talk about the video, I expected to see hormonal freak 12-year old thugs with five-o’clock shadows intimidating a waif of a woman. No. These were just kids, that’s all. Rude, undisciplined, mean kids who should be permanently banned from riding school buses and whose parents should be sent to remedial parenting school, but still kids, misbehaving toward an adult with authority because the adult was acting like a weak, passive slug, and has no more idea about how to supervise kids than she does about how to backstroke to Madagascar. The video shows a woman who just thinks she has a cushy job requiring nothing more than sitting and riding, never received any training, and doesn’t have the ability, wit, initiative or skill to shut down a bunch of little creeps who are acting out.

Fire her. Discipline the people who hired her. Use the video to show how not to be a bus monitor. If she performed the job she was hired to do, the taunting wouldn’t have happened: she was the adult, she was the monitor, and she was 100% responsible for allowing what happened to happen.

The people who are giving her money are rewarding irresponsible conduct and ineptitude, and you know, we have enough of that in the schools already. Let’s reward teachers who cry when students misbehave, and police officers who cry when the bad guys shoot at them, and Presidential candidates who cry when they are heckled! On the other hand, let’s not.

Let’s hire people to supervise our children who are capable of doing the job required of them.


Spark: Chris Plante

Source: New York Times

Ethics Alarms attempts to give proper attribution and credit to all sources of facts, analysis and other assistance that go into its blog posts. If you are aware of one I missed, or believe your own work was used in any way without proper attribution, please contact me, Jack Marshall, at

106 thoughts on “The Weeping Bus Monitor: A Half-Million Dollars For Incompetence

  1. Thank you! I was a bus monitor in Chicago for 8 years, I quit in ’09 when my youngest daughter was murdered there, and returned to California. I could not BELIEVE this storyat all and was quite upset when I saw this woman sitting there on her a** doing nothing but cowering and looking out the window. She acted like a 5 year old, not an adult. In 8 years I worked with all kinds of kids, from Head Start children to the autistic to kids in wheelchairs and this NEVER happened to me, because I would not have put up with it! I was trained, CPR certified, background checked, had to work in a pre-school 2 weeks a year, and wear a Cook County I.D. my responsibility was to transport children safely to school and that’s exactly what I did. They were told from the get go what to expect, and to behave in a civil manner, and if they didn’t then the first time they acted out they were written up, and these forms go to the company, the school board, and the school so there is a record of what happened. I was NOT afraid to write up a student EVER and once even wrote up a driver as well, a fact which our trainer could not believe, because noone had ever done it before. This woman had any number of options available to her and used NONE of them. She chose to sit there and cry and then told Matt Lauer she hoped they would ‘go away’! What the hell on earth??? She created this situation by not coming down on them hard the first time they acted out and then it escalated to a point where it became dangerous for her. Wanted to shake her when I saw this, I was so disgusted and appalled. She was completely incompetent and never should have been there. To say she would have been fired if she reported them is total bullshit. She was too weak to do it. Her driver didn’t help her, so what? If it were me I would have gone around him. I had drivers like that too. She should have marched in and demanded a sit down with her boss, and asked for a different route, but the point is, she could have done something, and she did not. Ridiculous. I lived the job for years and I know it inside out, I made a few mistakes, I was not ‘super monitor’, but never anything approaching this magnitude. What a sad specimen of humanity. And don’t get me started on the fools who are funding her. My consolation will be the the backlash that will start in a few weeks when people realize they’ve been had and want their dough back. She disgraced my former job that I took pride in and made us look stupid. I read she was going to go back to work there. I hope to hell not. She should take the undeserved largesse and retire to the isle of denial. What a damn mental case.

  2. I was a bus monitor based in Skokie Illinois for 8 years, til I left in ’09 to move to Cali after a family tragedy. I was shocked and appalled by this and have been so angry, ever since I saw the video of this pathetic, incompetent marshmallow of a woman allowing those kids to poke and prod her on the bus. Utter disbelief. I wanted to shake her. I trained for my job, was background checked, CPR certified, First Aid certificate, worked in the school 2 weeks a year and wore a Cook County I.D. school bus safey drills and the whole works just to see this idiot trash the job I and my coworkers worked so hard at and were so proud of. She had any number of options at her disposal and did not use any of them. Her failure to nip the behavior in the bud when it first happenes led to the escalation everyone saw in the video. I NEVER let that happen to me. If you don’t check kids right away you lose from the get go. The authority you have is the the authority you TAKE and she took none. It was obvious that it had happened before and she had done nothing and was now at a point where it was dangerous for her and others on that bus. That is criminally irresponsible! He first tool to bus discipline is the writeup and she admitted she did not a single one. If she had they would have gone to the company, with cc to both the school and the school board, and something would have been done. To say she was afraid to do that is a lie and a cop out, I was NEVER afraid to do a writeup and would have been in trouble if I hadn’t, because once discovered, a mess like this can cause bus companies to lose contracts and cause them to fold. She could also have walked directly into her bosses office and talked to him/her and asked for help and maybe a different route. Plus the fact she had BEEN a driver means she should have KNOWN all this very well! And it makes no difference her driver didn’t help her, I would have gone around him and indeed I did do that. This woman is a sad pathetic excuse of a human and indeed should have been fired instead of so many funding her stupidity. Just can’t believe it, and I bet this turns around in the next few weeks when people discover they’ve been had, and wish they hadn’t donated. I have more to say and will do it tomorrow as I am too angry to continue and I like to be calm. Ciao for now.

  3. One of the biggest questions here, for me, as a former bus aide, is why, if she had been a school bus driver for 20 years, was she not aware of proper procedure for handling unruly kids? This completely baffles me and I would like to see this addressed by her company. Also why was she allowing them to sit behind her. One of the first things a bus aide/monitor learns is you NEVER allow children to sit behind you, for the simple reason that they could be doing ANYTHING back there!

  4. Letting them sit behind her was so dumb, they could have lit her hair on fire. I doubt she would have noticed tho :D. If I could do computer graphics/photoshop I would make her the new Net meme. Maybe a montage of her being sprayed by the cop who did I to the OWS protesters, or the ugly head saying ‘why u no watch the kids’? Or just about anything, others come to mind. So if anyone reading this knows how to do that, feel free..

  5. No and no Eeyore. You philosophize too much. This wasn’t the 1st video, it was the 3rd. If I had seen her in the vid jumping up, ordering the kids to sit down, saying she would do writeups, being commanding and THEN receiving the poking and and taunts I would have been actually sorry for her. Not in this case. And no I never had kids swarm me like she did. They never got the chance. And on occasion I had kids that were so much worse they make these look like Cinderella in toe shoes. I had one stand toe to toe with me and dare me to write him up. I did. He was disciplined by the school. He didn’t do it again. I gave kids like this my little speech. Like this, ‘Hi, I’m Didi, I’m here to take you to school. Now we can have a pleasant time on this bus and get this done quick, or we can do it the hard way with writeups and sanctions. I like pleasant. Tell me if you need anything at all’. And that was it. Very few chose the hard way with the write ups. A monitor has to keep constant watch, and cannot engage in personal convo with kids either. Friendly but authoritative. This woman sat there glued to her seat like a sea slug on Sponge Bob. She made me want to vomit, I’m not kidding. She is a total fu@k up (yes!) And people are blind.

    • dkatt, if you’re still reading, where are the second and third videos you are referring to? I would like to see them. I looked through YouTube videos quickly, and may have overlooked them, but I only saw what look like multiple copies of the same video Jack posted. If there is in fact more video evidence showing other times, on other days and other bus rides, when Klein was inactive while kids were misbehaving, then I don’t have a problem with agreeing more with you and others here with whom I have been arguing. There is a stronger argument for Klein’s culpability, if there are three videos of her being so passive on three different days. There. Still think I’m “philosophizing too much?”

  6. One timeI was wearing my hair in a pony tail and a kid told me ‘you look like an old Brittany Spears’. He made me laugh so I let him skate on that one. Just once, tho.

  7. According to the collective voice in this thread, the old woman is “a sea slug, a weepy bus monitor, an entitled slacker, a fraud, a damned mental case, a sad pathetic excuse for a human, and last but not least, a total fu@k up”. Eat your heart out you name-calling, bus-riding kids!

    • And you point is? Before I found this Forum I made well reasoned comments on 2 others, and for that I was called, jealous, nosy, told to mind my own business, and told ‘fu@k you’ twice. And that was some of the milder stuff. So? I stand behind everything I’ve said because I have direct experience in the job this woman was allegedly performing. And I did it a hell of a lot better than she did. If you feel compelled to defend her fu@kitry at least do a better job than counting insults. Anyone can do that. Personally I like the one about the ‘sea slug on Sponge Bob.’ Mainly because I posted it. 😀

  8. currently im having the same problem with my monitor.. she sits in the back seat sleeps and may once or twice say sit down or face forward . I have turned in a Driversers concern form and was told I would just have to deal with it.. BUT I can NOT drive while thier screaming behind me… argh

    • Sam, I would say that you go back in and request a change of Monitor. If they won’t do that then just roll over her and take charge of the situation yourself. I commend you for doing what you did in this situation, as some of my drivers just did not care.. I was a monitor for years, and we could not sleep on the bus, a big no no and we would have been fired or suspended for it. Indeed at my company it was much easier for a driver to get rid of a monitor for any reason than for a monitor to do anything about a bad driver. I wish you luck, I know how frustrating it must be..

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