Mike Rossi celebrated a monumental achievement this year by finishing the Boston marathon, with his wife and 9-year-old twins on hand to cheer for him as he crossed the finish line. In preparation for the trip, Rossi sent an email to his children's school informing them that they would be absent from class to participate in what he says would be a "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity.
After returning home to Pennsylvania, Rossi was shocked to find a letter from the school principal, warning him that days missed due to a family trip are not considered excused absences.
Rossi told TODAY.com that he has an issue with the school district's strict attendance policy, specifically, a sternly worded admonishment in the principal's letter: "The school district is not in the position of overseeing family vacations or evaluating the educational nature of a family trip."
His response to the school principal was shared nearly 30,000 times on Facebook and prompted a nationwide discussion, as parents celebrated him for allowing his two children to skip three days of class in favor of a parent-led field trip.
His response to the principal's warning is below:
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 firsthand 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.