April 29, 2015
A Montgomery County family who took their children to Boston to cheer on their father and other participants in the marathon on April 20 received a letter from their children’s school criticizing them for the three days of "unexcused absences."
Mike Rossi, the father of the third-grade twins who attend Rydal Elementary School in the Abington School District, responds to principal Rochelle Marbury has gone viral on social media. He defended his parenting decision.
New post: " Mike Rossi writes letter to principal critical of him taking kids to Boston Marathon " http://t.co/PZZ4LImnc9— Lee Levy (@thekingleelevy) April 29, 2015
"I wouldn't hesitate to pull them out of school again for an experience like the one they had this past week."
Philadelphia Magazine obtained copies of both correspondences, below
“I understand that your family recently took a family vacation. I want you to be aware that the Abington School District does not recognize family trips as an excused absence, regardless of the activities involved in the trip.
The school district is not in the position of overseeing family vacations or evaluating the educational nature of a family trip. The dates that the children were absent were recorded as unexcused. An accumulation of unexcused absences can result in referral to our attendance officer and a subsequent notice of a violation of the compulsory school attendance law.”
"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.
"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 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."
In a later interview with Philadelphia Magazine, Rossi referred to the incident as an example of school zero-tolerance laws gone wrong.
Pennsylvania law does allow for educational family trips to be considered excused absences, though school districts can make exceptions.
"This is the zero tolerance that everyone loves," Rossi told Philly Mag. "They've taken common sense out of the equation. You've violated the rules and here's your letter. It definitely rubbed me the wrong way."
A meeting between the school and the parents is scheduled for Wednesday morning, Philly Mag reports. Read the full article here.