Former radio-personality-turned-suburban dad Mike Rossi did what most parents do sometime during the school year—he took his family on a vacation.
He never expected the battle that would ensue over his otherwise “normal” decision.
Mike and his family took a trip to Boston for a small vacation, during which Mike ran the Boston Marathon. Not only was it a fun time for the whole family, but Mike and his wife made sure to expose their kids to the many historical sites in Boston that shaped the formation of our country.
While they were away, the school where Mike’s twins, Jack and Victoria, attend classes noticed the children’s absence. After learning it was for a family vacation, the principal sent the Rossi’s a salty note that no one saw coming.
“Dear Mr. and Mrs. Rossi:
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 your children were absent were recorded as unexcused. An accumulation of unexcused absences can result in a referral to our attendance officer and a subsequent notice of a violation of the compulsory school attendance law.
Please contact me if you have any questions. Thank you.”
The note had my blood boiling just reading it. So imagine the reaction Mike must have had after learning that a family vacation—which allows family time and a break from everyone’s day-to-day stresses—was actually a cause for disciplinary action.
Mike responded to the principal. Unlike what many of us may have said to her, or what Mike may have wanted to for that matter, the father’s response was full of grace and class.
“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.
Mike says that his problem is with the district policy itself, and not a personal matter with the principal.
After being shared on social media, Mike’s incredible response went viral for all the right reasons. His kids got an awesome family vacation, learned about historic landmarks that founded our country, and even had the honor of learning a lesson in humility when someone attacks the sacred values of family.
All the praise for this rock star dad! Share this story if you agree!