Principal Shames Dad Over Kids' 'Once-in-a-Lifetime Experience'

Elise Solé
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Mike Rossi took his two children out of school on a 3-day trip to Boston. He called their absence educational; the school called it unexcused. (Photo: Mike Rossi/Facebook)

A Pennsylvania dad got scolded by a school principal for allowing his two children to skip school for what he called an “educational” family vacation.

Mike Rossi, a part-time radio personality in Rydal, took his 9-year-old twins on a 3-day vacation to watch him run the Boston Marathon on April 20. This wasn’t just any family trip — running the race had a dream for Rossi who finished despite a shoulder injury. On Saturday, a few days after the family returned home, Rossi received the below letter from the school principal. “I call it a nasty-gram,” Rossi, 47, tells Yahoo Parenting.

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Rossi posted a photo of the letter to Facebook along with a response he had penned, hoping to gain perspective from his friends — he didn’t expect his note would go viral, shared more than 15K and liked more than 230 times.  

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Dear Madam Principal,

While I appreciate your concern for our children’s education, I can promise you they learned as much in the five days we were in Boston as they would in an entire year in school.

Our children had a once-in-a-lifetime experience, one that can’t be duplicated in a classroom or read in a book.

In the 3 days of school they missed (which consisted of standardized testing that they could take any time) they learned about dedication, commitment, love, perseverance, overcoming adversity, civic pride, patriotism, American history culinary arts and physical education.

They watched their father overcome, injury, bad weather, the death of a loved one and many other obstacles to achieve an important personal goal.

They also experienced first-hand the love and support of thousands of others cheering on people with a common goal.

At the marathon, they watched blind runners, runners with prosthetic limbs and debilitating diseases and people running to raise money for great causes run in the most prestigious and historic marathon in the world.

They also paid tribute to the victims of a senseless act of terrorism and learned that no matter what evil may occur, terrorists can not deter the American spirit.

These are things they won’t ever truly learn in the classroom.

In addition our children walked the Freedom Trail, visited the site of the Boston Tea Party, the Boston Massacre and the graves of several signers of the Declaration of Independence.

These are things they WILL learn in school a year or more from now. So in actuality our children are ahead of the game.

They also visited an aquarium, sampled great cuisine and spent many hours of physical activity walking and swimming.

We appreciate the efforts of the wonderful teachers and staff and cherish the education they are receiving at Rydal Elementary School. We truly love our school.

But I wouldn’t hesitate to pull them out of school again for an experience like the one they had this past week.

“What’s frustrating is that a week before we left for vacation, my wife notified the kids’ teachers and we had planned for them to make up the standard testing period, which they did,” says Rossi. “I want to be clear that I am not angry with Principal Marbury but the policy set by the school district to deal with unexcused absences doesn’t make sense.”

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Mike Rossi pulled his two children out of school to watch him run the Boston Marathon. (Photo: Mike Rossi/Facebook) 

Yahoo Parenting could not reach the Abington School District for comment, however according to its website: “When an elementary student is absent from school, parents/guardians must call the Child Check number or elementary school office. This should be done between the hours of 4:00 p.m. the day before and 9:00 a.m. each day the student is absent. Upon the student’s return to school, a note or absence card must be sent to the elementary teacher outlining the reason for absence.”

Rossi and Marbury are scheduled to meet on Wednesday morning to discuss the children’s absences. “I’m hoping we can resolve it and I don’t want my kids to be treated differently because of this,” says Rossi. “In the event that this happens again, I wouldn’t lie and say the kids are sick but the school policy might force other parents who want to take family vacations to do that.”

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