Michael Rossi says he knows Rydal Elementary School’s policy states that family vacations are considered “unexcused absences,” but when he and his wife Cindy took their children on a family vacation to the Boston Marathon and he received a letter from the school’s principal, Rochelle Marbury, he says it rubbed him the wrong way. Instead of participating in standardized testing (testing which he told the principal his children “could take any time”), his children spent schooldays April 17, 20, and 21 cheering on their dad while he ran the marathon that he had “long dreamed of running” and exploring one of the nation’s oldest cities, according to Philadelphia Magazine.
Rossi, once a host of Dancin’ On Air, a local music show that has featured famous artists including Madonna, says he is a responsible, involved parent.
“I’m really active in the school. I take them every day. I chaperone all of the class trips that I can. I go to the field day and all activities. I even make videos for the classrooms and show them at the end of the year — highlights from the year. And I go in and read a couple of times a year. These rules should be in place for parents who aren’t involved and who, in some cases, don’t even know their kids are absent. This is not for responsible parents trying to teach their kids the right things and teach them about the world outside the classroom.”
Michael, who struggled to even make it to the marathon after suffering an injury and experiencing a death in the family, says that the school should examine its policy towards unexcused absences. Pennsylvania compulsory school attendance law states that educational family trips can be considered excused absences, but school districts are allowed to create their own stricter policies. Michael Rossi says that while in Boston, his children “learned about dedication, commitment, love, perseverance, overcoming adversity, civic pride, patriotism, American history, culinary arts and physical education.” Rossi told the principal that when his kids would have been participating in standardized testing, they instead 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.” Michael says they also visited an aquarium, sampled fine cuisine, walked the Freedom Trail, saw the graves of men who once signed the Declaration of Independence, and visited the site of the Boston Tea Party.
Father Gets Letter From Kids’ Principal Over Unexcused Absences, Response Goes Viral http://t.co/drT4T9eYMO pic.twitter.com/Du3oC7hRCD
— FOX 11 Los Angeles (@myfoxla) April 28, 2015
“This is the zero tolerance that everyone loves,” Rossi told Philadelphia Magazine. “They’ve taken common sense out of the equation. You’ve violated the rules and here’s your letter. It definitely rubbed me the wrong way.”
The principal wrote a letter to Michael Rossi saying that Abington School District recognizes absences due to family trips as unexcused absences and that the district isn’t in a position to evaluate the educational nature of these trips. The full details were covered by Inquisitr as the story first went viral on Facebook. Rossi’s post about his children’s unexcused absences is now viral, but contrary to media reports, Rossi says he isn’t in a battle with the principal.
“I’M NOT TAKING ON THE PRINCIPAL! It’s this one little school district policy I have an issue with. Headline writers….ugh”
Michael Rossi says that he has a meeting at the school on Wednesday to discuss the unexcused absences.
[Photo via Michael Rossi/Facebook]