School apologizes after punishing blind child by replacing cane with pool noodle

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — A Missouri school district has apologized for taking a blind child’s cane away and replacing it 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 family claims the cane was taken as a way of “humiliating” him for misbehaving.

According to WDAF, Dakota’s mother said he was written up for misbehaving on the bus, but she said she doesn’t understand why his punishment was to take away the thing he needs most.

After Dakota’s story aired on Tuesday, viewers called WDAF and expressed interest in buying Dakota his very own cane.

On Wednesday, the North Kansas City School District released a statement that read in part:

“The District has reviewed the situation. 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.”

School officials made a surprise visit to Dakota’s home Wednesday morning and returned the cane that was taken away from him.

“I’m so grateful, grateful to FOX 4, grateful to Facebook and social media,” Rachel said. “It’s spread like wildfire, and it’s all for my son, and so he got what he wanted and hopefully more, so thank you … thank you to everybody.”


See a typo? Report it here.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.