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School punishes blind child by replacing cane with pool noodle

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- 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.

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96 comments

  • Kathy

    This is just deplorable! The allegedly hit child’s parents were not interviewed nor was mention of any cherries if assault. Why this boy doesn’t have his own cane is beyond me, surely they aren’t that expensive and I would think insurance would cover one or, like where I live, medical equipment can be rented or scholarship granted based on need. I could see if he was swinging this cane wildly but this is all silly, and why would his folks continue to make him use the dang noodle. Seems to me this school has plenty of things to lend out but is quick to do “take backs” at will. I have a special needs child and although he doesn’t need a cane or equipment he has been allowed use of school devices and the school is more than happy to have him use it so he can become more independent! I hope this boys realizes not all adults are as screwed up as the ones on this story.

  • Bob Germanovich

    tell everyone to share this information and let this school district know you do not support the abuse of disabled children…

    Gracemor Elementary School
    5125 North Sycamore Avenue
    Kansas City, MO 64119
    (816) 413-6420

    Dr. Cynthia Kupka (Ed.D.)

    • Sarah

      Yes, please send your holiday wishes and let them know you support the school, because there was no wrong doing.
      This happened on the bus, therefor they switched his can with a noodle, UNTIL he got home, which they have his cane back to him. Which they have been doing for a long time. His mother had known about the whole situation. His step father is the one trying to cause problems with the media and to get money and fame from the whole thing. So please, send your prayers out to the people who work for the school because it’s not fair that all the good they have done for all the children at that school is getting drowned out by an angry and hateful step parent.

  • Linda

    I am a retired teacher, forchildren that are blind and
    Visually Impaired. This punishment was extreme.
    However, not knowing all the facts, this punishment
    May have fit the crime.

    • J. Walter Swartz

      Absolutely. Taking away his eyes makes perfect sense. If he were paralyzed and his wheelchair were misused they should take that away, coat him with Crisco and let him drag himself around until he learns his lesson. It’s good to know that we have had educators like you.

    • jaf

      The cane in this case is used as an extension of himself allowing him to attempt navigate the world around him. Can it be used as a weapon by a kid? Yes, as can..oh I don’t know..an arm..a fist..a foot. Do we take those away as a way to stop a child from hitting? No we give them appropriate punishment. The fact that you are an educator and believe there is any “crime” that wouldn’t involve the child being removed due to police involvement that warrants this level of response. Forget the humiliation of giving him a pool noodle. The mental consequences of taking the method this child has learned to use to navigate the world away..in a sense taking one of his senses away is insane. If you think there could have been a justification for this I am grateful you are no longer teaching. What would you say could fit a similar crime for his able bodied classmates? Lobbing off an arm. Or maybe at least making them wear a blindfold for a week? Thank goodness you weren’t in charge of doling out punishment to every elementary school kid in my school who hit someone on a bus…

  • Rene

    I just saw the deplorable news about the little boy who goes to Gracemor Elem School and what in the hell is wrong with those people. I can not believe that the school board let this crap happen. I hope that all the individuals involved in this matter get fired. Had someone done something like that to my son or daughter. Within 1 hour I would be in my lawyers office. The parents need to SUE the living shit out of the school district and the bus driver and the teacher. Then I would pull my child out of that school and find a school that treat him with kindness and respect that he so deserves. I am just beside myself over this. The school board, teacher and bus driver much be real several bricks short of a full load. SICK SICK SICK . Thank god I don’t have a child that goes to that school or in that district. And WHY IN THE HELL does this child not have his cane back???????? Grow up people

    • Sarah

      Your the idiot. This is not a true and factual story. The boy got his cane back the very same day. But when he was sitting on the bus purposefully hitting other children, yes, he was given a noodle! It wasn’t punishment, but procedure. He had done this many other times. And when the bus gets to school or home they give it back to him. So tell me how the hell is this a punishment? Don’t you put your kids in time out or take something away from them when they do something wrong? That’s how they learn. And in this case they were on a bus, so for the safety of other children he was given a noodle for a couple minutes while sitting down…..so you all can go to hell for the crap you are all spewing. I hope you get slandered the same way you are doing to others without knowing all the facts. Karma is a bitch. Remember that.

      • Brad Grant

        What I got from this story is that the kid was hitting people with school property. Whether it is as the mother says his “eyes” isn’t really the thing. If the kid was hitting someone with his fits they can’t really take away his fists but they can send him home. He should have just been sent home for 2 weeks. No one likes to be hit.

  • Jennifer

    SUE THIS SCHOOL and the people at school are SUPPOSED NOT to break the ADA LAW!! DO NOT LET THIS SCHOOL WIN FOR THEIR EXCUSES!! the cane is a MUST for blind people and children too NO MATTER WHAT!!! IT IS A LAW IS A LAW!!! period.

  • James

    This school district should be fined & every teacher/adult involved in this should be given a pay cut, if not FIRED from their job!! AND, they must ALL also have to be re-certified to teach again, too!

    • Bethi

      My God. You people who are so ready to wreak punishment and physical violence on the school/personnel have me very depressed that most of you have reproduced. I worked in special ed for 11 years, and learned that unless you were involved in the situation, you really don’t know what truly happened. Everyone thinks that children are so honest and always tell the truth. Biologically, children tell what happened as far as they can process the information, which doesn’t always include the full reality. That aside, IF what was reported actually occurred, the response was perhaps ill-considered. But people make mistakes. And after reading your responses, I’m so saddened that instead of teaching our children how to cope with adversity and unfairness, which would be the adult, mature, and intelligent thing to do, and the best gift we could give them, we instead want to punish, financially ruin and physically harm or destroy people who make mistakes. I only hope when you make mistakes, you’re punishment is metered out by someone more mature and intelligent than yourselves. May God have mercy on your souls.

      • jaf

        While I agree that ppl reacting wishing violence or other equally deplorable things on anyone is ridiculous. It is hard to make any valid point when spewing stuff like that. However the idea that the kid could be lying and it may be justified is equal disgusting to me. I have raised children. I made the immediate assumption that yes the kid probably denied any wrongdoing and most likely hit a kid with his cane. So what. Kids hit with their fists all the time and we don’t find the lazy solution to take off the arm. We don’t find the the barbaric response to be taking away one of their senses or hindering their ability to function normally. We don’t blindfold them or bind their legs together for 2 wks. What upsets me is the level of education for those who feel this could be an appropriate punishment in any situation. Like taking away a kids gameboy or phone. A cane is not a luxury item to a kid with no eyes. No situation could warrant taking it away for two weeks. This is not a safety issue it is a punishment. If the kid was dangerous with the cane then 2 wks from now he wouldn’t be less dangerous. There are ppl who feel locking a kid in closet is a way to teach them a lesson for acting out as well. It’s lazy and cruel. My issue isn’t the kid didn’t hurt anyone. Like many able bodied kids he probably did. That’s part of growing up. I’m not sure what you believe this lesson teaches in that situation.

      • Bethi

        JAF, I’m sorry you’re disgusted, but you’re just reinforcing my point. Why do we have to be outraged, disgusted, and other over the top adjectives? This is what we model for our children. Can’t we listen, talk, discuss…etc? I don’t think the actions of the school were right, either, but I wish our behavior were more level headed and less knee jerky for our children, in both our words and our actions and the way we handle adversity. We want to immediately attack and punish “the last bad thing that happened” with words and actions and lawsuits right away, then we wonder why our children are becoming increasing violent bullies. Certainly, teach your children to have strong moral codes, and not be afraid to speak up and defend others. But also teach them to look at situations objectively, fact find and consider other people may have different opinions than ours that may still be valid and educational to us..
        And I don’t mean to say the blind child is lying. Just at that age, how they see what happened and what really occurred is probably two different scenarios. My purpose isn’t to defend his punishment, but to point out how we could model behaviors that would serve our children and society better in the long run.

    • Sarah

      Mike, I hope you get sodomized for being the ignorant dumb ass that you are.
      And JAF, just so you know, the school NEVER had threatened to take his cane away for 2 weeks. They always give it back to him when he gets off the bus. But the child always says their taking it away for 2 weeks. The entire school knows this. So instead of believing a one sided story I hope you understand this story left out important facts for a reason. The step dad wants money and fame and will slander anyone and do anything to get it.

  • Jerica

    I understand it was the “schools property ” but if a boy in a wheelchair with no legs was running over people’s toes would they take his wheelchair? That’s his way of getting around and seeing that’s ridiculous!

  • Scott

    Why didn’t they put the noodle over the cane? That way no other kid gets hurt if he raises it, but he gets to use the actual cane that he needs. Not too tough to come up with that.

  • Sarah

    First off, this is a ONE-SIDED STORY. This boy is blind, not mentally ill. He hits other children with his came on purpose on a daily basis. I know this personally bc I know ppl at this school! Because of this behavior they have to give him a noodle instead so he doesn’t hurt other children. HOW IS THIS WRONG OR DEPLORABLE?! Would you like your childs teachers to do nothing if he was hitting your kids? His own mother knows this happens on a constant basis and she knows that’s why they have to switch between the cane & noodle. THIS ISN’T A PUNISHMENT, BUT A PROCEDURE THAT’S BEEN GOING ON FOR A VERY LONG TIME. Punishment would be putting him in time out or not letting him participate in activities. The step dad is the one yelling about this and bringing this to the media. They are trying to slander the names of the good teacher and principal that work there. It’s disgusting. Now everyone is receiving death threats over some idiot’s lie! I hope you all ppl saying all this horrible things get death threats and feel the same kind of pain these ppl are now going through. And I hope that step father rots for the pain he has now caused.

    • schwarherz

      Regardless of whether it’s “only on the bus” or not as you keep saying, it’s still wrong. He should be punished the same way that a child who hits with fists or feet would be, not by having what is essentially his eyes confiscated, even for a short bus ride.

  • Kelly Klaisner

    I am visually impaired and I couldn’t imagine traveling again without the use of my cane he keeps me safe people are aware that I cannot see normally again that and that keeps me safe too how can someone do this to a child what an educator take away a child’s wheelchair its makes me sick!

  • Joan Richard

    As a retired 35 year teacher,I can not believe how this matter was handled. Someone should be on that bus to observe what is going on. Is the boy being bullied?Put a paid professional bus aid on that bus to observe what is happening.Why did that child feel he had to act out??? He,as well as all the others ,should feel safe on the bus. It is scary enough not being able to see- think about it…

  • Marcie

    It is questionable whether punishment was necessary. However, to take away a blind student’s cane and substitute an object that cannot accomplish the task that the cane was designed for is ridiculous and if the child was older, unsafe. Blindfold a childe for rudely staring at someone. Would that be appropriate?

    • Bethi

      Yes, Abrondino, you bring up a really good point. “Punishes” is more of an incendiary choice than a wise, editorial one. After the cold blooded murder of the police officers in New York, maybe our media will make more conscious choices to be the voice of reason in their coverage of stories, instead of baiting us against each other. The comments in this story alone prove that it doesn’t take much to bring out the violent tendencies in people. Maybe some of the commentators here and especially our media should take a moment for self examination of how their behavior contributes to problems. The police and the schools are chronically easy targets for aggressive criticism and anger. Then when a something like an officer involved shooting, or a school shooting occurs, we all wonder “why is this happening, what’s wrong with our society?” Maybe we should look more critically at our own impulsive, irresponsible, immature behavior we model for our children, who we then send out into the world for the police and the schools to deal with.

  • Heather White

    Just because the kid is blind doesn’t mean he’s mentally deficient. A blind person can and does know if they’re whacking someone with a cane. He should’ve just been sent home for a week for hitting someone and let the parents deal with it.

  • David

    I am amazed at how this “news” story was constructed! Sensationalism at its most deplorable. If the child was hitting other children with his walking stick on the bus and would not stop when told to do so, what would have been a better alternative? There is plenty of stuff in this world to get mad about, if you really need it. Nothing to see here, move along.