It is natural for families to go on a vacation once in a while to relax and create special memories together. However, one principal from a school in Pennsylvania wasn’t too happy when two of her students took a vacation with their family.
Michael Rossi and his wife took their children on a much-anticipated trip to Boston where they missed three days of school. Upon their return, the parents were shocked to receive a strongly-worded letter from the principal of Rydal Elementary School where their kids attend.
In the letter, Principal Rochelle Marbury writes:
“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.”
She also said that their children’s absences were recorded as unexcused. The principal also warned that repeated unexcused absences may result in a “notice of a violation of the compulsory school attendance law”.
Mike said that the teachers knew about the scheduled trip early in the year and he also made sure to notify them about it shortly before the trip. That is why he became upset when he received the letter – he didn’t like the principal’s tone and thought that the school policy didn’t make any sense.
“To get a letter like that, that was pretty accusatory and the language was pretty hostile, it made me a little angry,” Rossi told WPVI-TV in Philadelphia.
To answer, he posted the picture of the letter on his Facebook page along with his own lengthy response.
He began by saying that he appreciated the principal’s concern and affirmed that his children learned a lot from the five days they were in Boston. Mike continued by explaining that they had a “once-in-a-lifetime experience” that “can’t be duplicated in a classroom or read in a book”.
It turned out that the trip was more than just a regular family vacation – the kids actually went to support their father as he participated in the Boston Marathon.
Part of his post reads:
“They watched their father overcome injury, bad weather, the death of a loved one and many other obstacles to achieve an important personal 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.”
He also revealed that his children took part in several educational activities, such as visiting the locations of the Boston Tea Party and Boston Massacre. He knows that these things will be taught in school, but because of the trip they took, they are already “ahead of the game”.
Mike expressed his gratitude to the school, saying “We truly love our school”. But even if they did, he “wouldn’t hesitate” to pull his children out of school again to partake in an enriching experience such as the one they had during their Boston adventure.
The viral response letter sparked an international parenting debate, with Mike being invited to interviews by different media channels.
Watch one of his interviews below from WPVI-TV Philadelphia.
Do you agree with Mike’s response? Do you think that absentee policies in schools should be amended?