BARNEGAT, NJ – When Barnegat mother Diane Zaccagna received a telephone call from a man identifying himself as the high school’s vice-principal, she was taken by surprise. According to the caller, her son Connor was assigned ISS.
Unfamiliar with the acronym, Diane later found out that it meant her son was in a room designated for “In-School Suspension.” Connor is a junior at the high school and in all honors classes. He’s in the top five percent of his class. Academics aside, Connor has also never been in trouble.
It all began when Connor went on Amazon and decided to purchase 250 bouncy balls. As it turns out, Connor intended to distribute them. He figured he’d randomly hand them out as his version of an act of kindness.
“During lunchtime, Connor went up and down the rows of lunch tables,” shared Diane. “His plan was to put a smile on the kids’ faces.”
One can only imagine the scene of 250 bouncy balls in action all at once. It could turn into a bit of bedlam. According to Diane, the vice principal made it sound like the chaos had already started. And, of course, Connor provided the ammunition.
What was intended as a good deed, turned an unfortunate one. It unraveled further when Connor was escorted from his Italian class to the head office. Ultimately, Connor was placed in the room for ISS and missed his Honors English class.
“I was prepared to be angry at my son when I got home from work,” admits Diane. “However, when he explained his intentions, I realized he truly believed he was doing an act of kindness.”
Diane received a follow-up call from the school today. The vice-principal assured her that nothing was in Connor’s file. In fact, although he sat in the room designated for ISS, he was not assigned any kind of suspension. Since Connor was upset, administrators felt it was best to keep him out of class.
“I was told there was no other place to move Connor,” said Diane. “I suggested that it would have been more appropriate to bring him to either the nurse’s office or the guidance office.”
Contacted for comment, Barnegat Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian Latwis said he was aware of the situation. “I cannot discuss individual students or discipline that may or may not have happened,” Latwis explained. “However, I can assure you that we do prioritize the safety and orderly operation of our schools.”
Thinking that Connor might be assigned extended ISS, a social media hashtag #FreeConnor began yesterday. Some did call the school to voice their protests. However, the high school junior has already bounced back and returned to his regular classes.