School Takes Blind Boy’s Cane, Replaces with Pool Noodle

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A Missouri school recently punished an 8-year-old blind boy for acting up at school by taking away his cane and replacing it with a pool noodle.

Dakota Nafzinger was listening to music on the school bus when it was taken away from him.  According to school officials, he had hit another child with his cane, which is school property, so it was taken away from him by the bus driver.  He was given a pool noodle instead to use for two weeks, North Kansas City School District Spokeswoman Michelle Cronk said.

In addition to the unusual punishment, Dakota was written up for the incident.

Sydney Lupkins for ABC News reported that the boy had been listening to music, and threw the cane in the air.  His father, Donald Nafzinger, said he tends to tap his cane in time to the music.  School officials saw the cane in the air and assumed the boy was becoming violent.

The pool noodle has Dakota in a state of immobilization.

“It’s a lot harder with this (noodle),” Dakota told a television reporter from WDAF-TV. “They said they were going to give me this for the next two weeks. I can’t feel things.”

Dakota was born with no eyes as a result of a rare disease known as bilateral anophthalmia.  Upon finding out what had happened, his mother contacted the local news media because she felt “there weren’t caring people left in this world.”  She referred to the punishment as “humiliating” and “inappropriate.”

North Kansas City Schools has apologized for their wrong-doing.  School officials then came to the Nafzinger’s home to return his cane.

“The District has reviewed the situation,” North Kansas City Schools wrote in a statement. “We regret that a mistake was made in making sure the student was in possession of his cane when he boarded the bus Monday evening. The District has apologized to the family and is working to rectify the situation. When we were made aware of the mistake, corrections were made. It is always the District’s policy when we become aware of situations like this, we thoroughly and immediately investigate to ensure a safe learning environment for all students.”

According to Ryan Grenoble for The Huffington Post, experts strongly suggest that punishments should not shame or embarrass children.  They say the methods are ineffective and could cause an increase in anxiety, depression and aggression.

His parents reported that strangers have offered to purchase a cane for Dakota so that he does not have to worry about it being taken away in the future, writes Meg Wagner for The Daily News.