School Takes Away 8-Year-Old's Cane & Gives Him Pool Noodle Instead

There's discipline and then there's cruelty. File what happened to one 8-year-old blind boy in a North Kansas school under the latter. Dakota Nafzinger, who was born with a rare condition called Bilateral Anopthalmia and doesn't have eyes, reportedly got into a fight on the school bus and used his cane to hit another child. Obviously, no one -- not his parents or anyone else -- is justifying this child's violent action. He deserves to be disciplined in some way. But here's what the bus driver reportedly decided to do to handle the situation: he took his cane away from him and gave him a substitute -- a SWIMMING POOL NOODLE. And school administrators at Gracemor Elementary School are reportedly backing this inane decision.


Now, it should be mentioned that the driver says he took away the cane because he feared Dakota posed a threat to both himself and other students on the bus. Faced with the same situation, I would do exactly the same thing. He had a responsibility to protect the students and he had to make the right call in the moment.

But I don't understand why Dakota wasn't given his cane back when he reached his destination and clearly needed it to balance while he got off the bus.

Michelle Cronk, a spokeswoman for the school district, said the cane was school property and was given to Dakota when he enrolled as a student. She backed the driver's decision to do this because they wanted to prevent him from hurting someone or himself.

With all that said, you kind of lose me at "swimming pool noodle."

In a ridiculous, bombastic twist, the child received the noodle as a substitute for a cane -- even though a flexible, bendable pool noodle shares as much in common with a cane as a pencil does with a pretzel. He has been reportedly told he has to use the noodle for two weeks. It isn't clear if this is because he is being punished, which, if true, is the most horrific and thoughtless punishment I've ever heard of in my life -- or if something happened to the cane. Again, we should keep in mind that the reason is unclear.

Naturally, Dakota's parents are upset. His mother, Rachel Nafzinger, says her son has been through enough in his young life and that it is unfair to humiliate him for doing something wrong. She and her husband, Donald, agree he should have been written up for misbehaving on the bus, but that taking away "his eyes" isn't fair.

In my opinion, his parents are being too nice. Allow me to add a few more words to describe what is being done to this child -- ASSUMING depriving him of his cane is a consequence for his misbehavior. Callous. Inhuman. Barbarous. Ill-advised. Extremely shortsighted.

The only lesson this little boy is being taught is that humiliating someone else is totally fine -- as long as the person you humiliate is weaker, younger, and more powerful than you are. Bravo, guys.

The only light here is that someone who heard about Dakota's story has been gracious enough to offer to buy him a cane.

Do you think it was okay for this child to have his school-issued cane taken away after he misbehaved on the school bus?


Image via ashleigh290/Flickr

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