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School punishes students for watching dad run Boston Marathon, father fires back

Posted at 2:45 PM, Apr 30, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-30 16:50:21-04

MONTGOMERY COUNTY, Penn. - A Pennsylvania man inadvertently sparked a huge parenting debate by posting a letter to his children's school on Facebook.

The letter came after Mike Rossi's kids were slapped with three unexcused absences for traveling to watch him run the Boston Marathon.

He had notified the school about the plan, but even so, school district officials sent him a letter notifying him that those absences would not be excused.

The letter also said further unexcused absences could lead to the district taking administrative action.

Rossi says the kids got to check out some historic sites in Boston and he found the school's letter offensive.

So, he posted it to Facebook, along with his proposed response to her, and the exchange went viral.

Dad Boston Marathon school post

Rossi wrote in his response, which he said he never actually sent:

"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."

Rossi's Facebook post has been shared more than 30,000 times since it was posted April 25.

He's even fielding media requests from around the world.

His post also prompted the school board president to post a response on the school district website reading, in part:

"I believe it is our job as parents to make sure that our children understand the importance of rules, that rules should be followed, and that there are consequences for breaking rules."

dadletterRossi later added that he is not as angry at the school, as some reports are making him out to be.

In a follow up Facebook post, he asked that people stop sending hate mail and personally attacking his children's school principal.

"Mrs. Marbury is a wonderful person and an excellent principal. She was only doing her job by sending that letter and should not be subject to any personal attacks," Rossi wrote.

Below is Rossi's full response to the school he wrote on Facebook:

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.

Sincerely,
Michael Rossi
Father