School Punishes Blind Child by Replacing Cane with Pool Noodle

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KANSAS CITY, Missouri — The parents of a Missouri eight-year-old boy are outraged after they say their blind son’s cane was taken away and replaced with a pool noodle.

Dakota Nafzinger, who was born without eyes, attends Gracemor Elementary School in Kansas City. Rachel Nafzinger told WDAF the school took away her son’s cane as punishment for bad behavior on the bus and gave him a swimming pool noodle to use as a substitute.

North Kansas City School District Spokeswoman Michelle Cronk confirmed the school took away Dakota’s cane, calling it school property that was given to him when he enrolled.

Cronk said the school took the cane after he reportedly struck someone on Monday while riding the bus. Cronk said the boy “fidgets” without his cane, so a pool noodle was given to him as a substitute.

Dakota’s father, Donald Nafzinger, said his son lifts his cane sometimes and the bus driver thought he was using it violently.

“They said they were going to give me this for the next two weeks,” Dakota said.

Dakota’s family claims the cane was taken as a way of “humiliating” him for misbehaving.

“All around, he’s a good little guy, and he shouldn’t be treated the way he’s being treated,” Donald Nafzinger said.


  • JannaC

    Umm we wouldn’t blind fold a sighted child or tie their arms down for hitting, why would they take away something he uses to see with.

  • Sue

    non sighted kids may need discipline like other kids

    but taking away their cane should never be one of them

    teacher should be FIRED, and perhaps charged

  • Tanaya

    That is the most messed up thing the school could have done….So just tell him that on the bus he has to give it to the bus driver, and the bus driver can help him get on the bus and off the bus…let him have his cane during other times….Geez louise you messed up sadistic people

  • kay

    If that were my child I would be absolutely beyond outraged. And I would certainly see to it that the person who did this got what was coming to em.

  • Laura Winsett

    That is straight up bull! Taking away his cane is like taking his eyes away again! How is he supposed to maneuver through the school? So what if he had a dog and it misbehaved he’d lose it to? Shame on these idiots! Take away anything my child needed to function and you will need one!

    • John Smith

      That was my first thought, too: Get him a cane of his own, engrave his name on the handle, and then tell the schmucks at his school they had better never so much as lay a finger on it.

      Then I got to thinking, a helper dog might be even better. A large one.

  • Shari

    I have a child with a TBI and a motorized chair. She has used her chair to run into people. Not other children. I have taken her chair away and made her go to school in a push chair as a punishment. If he was using the cane inappropriately, it is warranted. However, a day or two should be sufficient.

  • kmenard

    I’m pretty sure that’s got to be some kind of civil rights violation. These parents need to look into getting their child a cane that is his. In many states there are places they can go to get free canes. The school needs to be held responsible.

  • mom

    Does he not have a teachers aide with him at all times ? If he is a problem on the bus then suspend him from the bus.

  • Neal

    If he was using the cane inappropriately, then yes other arrangements should be so that he can navigate the school. You can get suspended for.misusing a ruler, pencil, wheelchair, cruthes, and any other object that could cause serious injury if mishandled. I can understand the parents’ frustration, but the fact of the matter is that the school staff members are responsible and liable for the well-being of ALL students on the premises. If one student is threatening the safety of others by abusing the right to carry an assisting device, then actions need to be taken.

    • mattinwestdesmoines

      Absolutely agree, Neal – here’s a scenario that shows why:
      Let’s say the kid is angry at someone, or who knows, maybe he has a temper (just become someone is blind doesn’t mean they can’t be just like other kids emotionally). He swings the cane in retaliation to something someone has said or because he has a temper, and takes another student’s eye out. How would you feel if you were the parent of the student who was injured/blinded by that swing? All kids have a right to be protected from physical harm. Like I said in my other post, taking it during the bus ride home was appropriate, while he’s sitting in a seat. It’s the aftermath that gets messy because of lack of communication between driver/school/parents.

  • Emily

    Why is he using a borrowed cane from the school? If he was born without eyes, he’s probably been using a cane for several years now. His parents should go out and buy him a couple and send the cane to school with him to use. If he really did hit another child with his cane on purpose, he deserves punishment just as much as a sighted child who hits someone, but taking away his cane and expecting him to walk with a pool noodle is just cruel. The bus driver (who took it away) should have given it back to him before he got off the bus and called the parents after her route was over to let them know what happened. There HAS to be more to this story.

    • mattinwestdesmoines

      I’m with you, Emily. The inflammatory headline gets views, but there’s got to be more to this story. If he’s sitting on the bus, he doesn’t need the cane to ride home in a seated position. What should have been done was to return it to him when he got off the bus, and contact parents to let them know why the disciplinary action was taken during the ride home. Then they could have worked out a solution moving forward. I’m also of the same mindset as several others here who wonder how the world this kid doesn’t have a cane that is his own property if he was born without sight. Why is the school district providing that instead of the family who has raised him all these years?

  • Roberta Holland

    I would like to see the name and face of the school official who made this cruel decision splashed all over the news and internet just like this innocent little boys’ has been.

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