Mike Rossi, a popular radio personality, recently took his kids out of school for a few days. He was participating in the Boston Marathon, and wanted his family to witness the historic event. He and his wife Cindy never expected their children’s school absence to be counted as “unexcused” – but it was.
Shortly after the trip, the Rossi family received a letter from the principal of Rydal Elementary, stating that the school would not consider a family vacation as an excused absence.
The strongly-worded statement incudes a warning, which reads, “An accumulation of unexcused absences can result in a referral to our attendance officer and a subsequent notice of violation of the compulsory school attendance law.”
However, Rossi wasn’t going down that easily – and for good reason. On April 26, he posted the following message on his Facebook and Twitter. Read here, or keep scrolling for the full transcript.
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.
Thank you for your time.
In a later comment, Rossi added that he had emailed teachers at Rydal months in advance, alerting them of the upcoming absence and asking for homework assignments. However, according to the school’s handbook, that doesn’t matter. It reads:
“Unexcused absences include such reasons as missing the bus, family vacations, or failure to provide a written excuse note upon the student’s return to school. After three days of unexcused absence a warning notice will be sent to the parents or guardian. With the next unexcused absence, a criminal complaint will be filed without warning with the District Justice for court action.”
However, as Rossi wrote in his letter, his kids did receive invaluable learning experiences on their trip to Boston. He wrote, “My beef isn’t really with the principal. We like her very much. It’s the policy that stinks.”
On April 27, Rossi met with the principal and members of the schoolboard. Although they stand behind their policy, they have agreed to look at the handbook and see if it can be rewritten to add flexibility.
Guess who got called in to the principals office? This guy.Posted by Mike Rossi on Monday, April 27, 2015