School Takes Blind Boy's Cane, Gives Foam Noodle

Dakota Nafzinger's parents outraged by punishment
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 18, 2014 10:30 AM CST

A Kansas City school took flak this week after it took away a blind boy's cane as punishment. School officials say 8-year-old Dakota Nafzinger, born without eyes, hit another student with his cane on the school bus Monday, prompting the bus driver to replace it with a foam noodle. Gracemor Elementary School officials initially said they had every right to confiscate the cane as it was school property and Dakota didn't use a cane before the school year. They said the noodle wasn't for mobility purposes; Dakota simply needed it to avoid fidgeting. But Dakota's mom, Rachel Nafzinger, was outraged, telling WDAF-TV, "Why would you take the one thing that he's supposed to use all the time? That's his eyes."

A rep for the American Council of the Blind tells the Christian Science Monitor the punishment was "an extra nasty step of demeaning the child, humiliating him and robbing him of his mobility." Dakota's father, Donald Nafzinger, adds his son sometimes lifts his cane and the driver may have mistaken the move for violence. Dakota says he "can't feel things" with the noodle, but "they said they were going to give me this for the next two weeks." After his story spread, however, the North Kansas City School District admitted its error. "We regret that a mistake was made in making sure the student was in possession of his cane when he boarded the bus," it said. Dakota's mom says school officials returned her son's cane in a surprise visit yesterday. (More blindness stories.)

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