A school is reportedly standing firm in their decision after a blind child’s cane was taken, and replaced with a pool noodle. The situation seems to be filled with conflicting reports of exactly what happened, and why — but what isn’t disputed is that the child uses the cane to get around, and the school took it away.

According to Fox4, 8-year-old Dakota Nafzinger’s cane was taken from him when a school bus driver says he hit another child with it. His parents say this isn’t accurate, and that the bus driver thought Dakota was being violent when he lifted his cane.

The child was then given a pool noodle in place of his cane. He says that the noodle doesn’t help him feel things, and he can’t tell where things are without his cane. His parents say that this was an intentional move to humiliate Dakota. A school spokesperson claims it’s only because Dakota fidgets without his cane (as perhaps one might when their primary method of ‘seeing’ is taken.)

The spokesperson also stood by the decision, defending it by saying the school had issued the cane to begin with, and that it was school property. A news viewer has contacted Fox4 to offer to buy Dakota his own cane. The school has not stated whether the blind child’s cane would be taken if it was not one they had provided.

The parents are considering their options, and a widespread community — not just the local community, but the global community of parents whose children have disabilities, and of compassionate people — is responding to the incident. On the school’s Facebook page, reviews have plummeted, with nearly as many one-star reviews in the past 24 hours as the total number of reviews before the story broke.

Unbelievable responce from this school. Are you people crazy. You are aware this is a violation of the Disabilities Act. So the cane is school property…so what ! If the child was in a wheel chair and that was your property would you take that away if he ran over someones toes?

You oughta be ashamed of ur selves,taking away a blind kids cane that he needs?

How inhumane !! to take away a blind childs cane is outrageous!! I would never send my child here!

Dakota’s mother notes that her son also received a more ordinary punishment for the bus incident, suggesting that for the blind child’s cane to be taken was not only an unreasonable punishment, but an additional punishment outside the normal routine.

[photo credit: Travis S.]