Dakota Nafzinger is an 8-year-old from Kansas City, Missouri, who goes to Gracemor Elementary. He was born without eyes, a condition called Bilateral Anopthalmia.
Recently, Dakota came home with a pool noodle instead of his cane. The school said it was punishment for Dakota’s bad behavior on the school bus.
Dakota’s family are furious. They told local affiliate WDAF-TV that taking away Dakota’s cane is the same as taking away his eyes. “He shouldn’t be treated the way he’s being treated,” Dakota’s father Donald said.
The school said that Dakota has to use the pool noodle for the next two weeks, claiming the boy used his school-supplied cane to hit someone while riding the bus.
North Kansas City School District Spokeswoman Michelle Cronk told reporters that the school did take away Dakota’s cane, but said it was a preventative measure to make sure the boy didn’t hurt himself or others.
As news of Dakota’s punishment has spread, furious Facebook users are pouring on to the elementary school’s Facebook page, upset over the school’s decision.
Ryan Broderick is a reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.