A school district in Kansas City, Missouri, is taking flak due to the seemingly cruel and unusual punishment inflicted upon a blind third grader.
Dakota Nafzinger, 8, was born with a medical disorder known as Bilateral Anopthalmia, a condition characterized by the absence of one or both eyeballs.
On Monday, a school bus driver for the Gracemor Elementary School claimed he spotted Dakota using his walking cane to hit another student.
As punishment, Dakota’s cane was confiscated and switched out with a swimming pool floating device, which he is currently using to feel his way around.
“It’s a lot harder with this,” Dakota told Fox4KC.com, describing how the pool noodle was a poor substitute for his cane. “Can’t feel things.”
“They said they were gonna give me this for the next two weeks,” Dakota recalled. Additionally, the boy received a written reprimand for misbehaving.
Dakota’s father, however, believes his son may have just been lifting his cane, which he sometimes does, and that the action may have been misinterpreted by the bus driver as a violent act.
His parents suspect the pool noodle was meant “to humiliate him for misbehaving,” according to Fox4KC.
“Why would you do that?” asked Dakota’s mom Rachel Nafzinger. “Why would you take the one thing that he’s supposed to use all the time? That’s his eyes.”
A spokesperson for the North Kansas City School District explained to the local Fox affiliate “they took away [Dakota’s] cane and gave him a pool noodle because he needed something to hold. [She] said Dakota fidgets without his cane.”
But despite the explanation, his parents still feel the punishment went way too far.
“All around, he’s a good little guy, and he shouldn’t be treated the way he’s being treated,” Dakota’s father, Donald Nafzinger, said of his son’s behavior.
“He’s gone through so much in his life already, 8 years, 8 years, and I just don’t like someone else putting my son in that position,” Dakota’s mom lamented.
“If I don’t stand up for him, who is going to?” his mother asked.
The cane was given to Dakota by the school district at the beginning of the year.
North Kansas City School District Spokeswoman Michelle Cronk had not responded to Infowars’ request for comment at the time of publishing.
While Dakota’s is an isolated incident, the case is a damning indictment of the public school system and is illustrative of how, not only fellow students, but faculty members themselves can sometimes bully innocent, and in this case disabled, children.