I didn’t immediately recognize Rossi, however, as the 47-year-old father of two currently making headlines for his viral response to a letter he received after deciding to take his kids out of school to watch him run the Boston Marathon. “This has been a big, big thing for our family and it was really important for me to have them there,” he told Philadelphia’s FOX 29, adding that an injury and the recent death of his grandmother couldn’t keep him from running the race. “And then to have them standing there and have them watch me finish was priceless.”
The experience was slightly marred, however, when Rossi received a note from his kids’ elementary school principal upon return, informing him that the absences would be considered unexcused.
“I understand that your family recently took a family vacation,” the letter—which Rossi posted on Facebook—redundantly began. “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.”
© Courtesy of Mike Rossi
Rossi wasn’t feeling the tone of the letter—I’m having a hard time getting past the two spaces after each period myself—so he posted a response on Facebook:
“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. 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 cannot deter the American spirit. These are things they won’t ever truly learn in the classroom.”
Rossi brings up some really interesting points here, and not surprisingly, his post quickly went viral. The response was never sent to the school, however. “We love the school, we adore our teachers, we moved to this town for the school district,” Rossi told Fox29. As he keeps trying to drive home on Facebook, he is not trying to diss the teachers or school, it’s just “this one little policy I have an issue with.”
For the record, not all Montgomery County schools have a zero tolerance policy when it comes to family vacay. My own kids’ school, for example—different district, same county—makes exceptions for family trips if you can show they are educational in nature. Pennsylvania law grants each individual school district the right to draft their own attendance policy. And as such, Rossi has a meeting with Abington’s school principal today to discuss changing things up.
Let’s hope things move fast, though. Rossi posted yesterday that he was just selected to run the upcoming Chicago Marathon in October.