There’s No Situation Where Replacing A Blind Child’s Cane With A Pool Noodle Is An Acceptable Punishment

Screen Shot 2014-12-17 at 19.39.30A horrible, terrible, no good, very bad school decision was made this week when school staff decided to punish a blind child by taking away his cane and replacing it with a pool noodle.

No matter how many times I read or write that sentence, I cannot believe it is real. That any person would think it acceptable to take a cane away from a blind child is bewildering, and that it was done by educators makes it even more inconceivable. And as if taking a little blind child’s cane away was not bad enough, the school turned it into a farce by giving him a pool noodle in its place.

Pool noodles are not very useful things for guiding oneself through life and making sure one does not run into things. In fact they’re not useful for a whole lot outside of craft projects and floating in swimming pools.

According to Fox 2 St. Louis, 8-year-old Dakota Nafzinger goes to school at the Gracemor Elementary School in Kansas City. He uses a cane to get around because he was born without eyes.

A school district spokesperson told Fox 4 Kansas City that the cane was taken away because Dakota hit someone with it on the bus. She described the cane as “school property” that was given to Dakota by the district when he enrolled. She said the pool noodle was handed over as a substitute because Dakota fidgets and needs something to hold. But the noodle is not an effective cane replacement.

”It’s a lot harder with this,” Dakota said of the noodle, explaining that it didn’t do much good and he can’t feel things with it. Dakota said the school said he would have to carry the pool noodle for two weeks, at which point they would give him his cane back.

”Why would you do that?” Dakota’s mother said, echoing what we’re probably all thinking. “Why would you take the one thing that he’s supposed to use all the time? That’s his eyes.”

Dakota’s father says his son lifts the cane up sometimes and the bus driver mistakenly thought he was going to hit someone with it. That is unconfirmed, but even if Dakota hit someone on the bus, confiscating his cane seems far out of bounds as a punishment.  What would be the punishment if a sighted kid hit someone on the bus? That situation must come up sometimes, and you couldn’t take a kid’s arm away for two weeks. Whatever the school would normally do in that situation would probably hopefully have been a much saner solution than taking away a blind child’s cane.

Photo: Fox4 Kansas City 

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