School Calls Family's 'Once-In-A-Lifetime' Vacation 'Unexcusable' — Dad Epically Shuts Them Down


kids greeting runner in marathon a katz via Shutterstock / Oghibli Art via Canva

Family vacations are often rare, but the positive effects they have on both children and parents are notable. Unfortunately, school attendance policies leave many families in a bind when scheduling time away, with those concerned about their children missing school stuck taking vacation during school holidays or summertime.

However, one father saw an opportunity for a family vacation when he qualified for the Boston Marathon, which takes place on a weekday in April. But when they returned, he found an email from the kids' school in his inbox.


His kids' school told him they don't 'recognize family trips as an excused absence.'

When Mike Rossi took his children to watch him run the Boston Marathon, the family returned to an email from the kids' school principal informing them they would be penalized for their three days of absences.

"I understand that your family recently took a family vacation," the principal wrote in an email. "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."

abington school district email to rossi family about attendance policyPhoto: Michael Rossi / Facebook


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According to the Abington School District's attendance policy, 'excused' absences are pretty much confined to 'urgent' reasons such as injury, illness or a death in the family.

While it appeared the parents reached out to the school beforehand to notify them of the absences and explain the benefits of the trip for their kids' personal development, the school made no exception. Further, they reiterated that "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."

The father crafted an epic response to the school defending his family's decision to take their kids out of school.

Posting the school's email and his response in a since-deleted Facebook post, the father pointed out the absurdity of the school's restrictive policy.


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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 three 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 senseless acts 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.

In addition, our children walked the Freedom Trail, they 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.


Michael Rossi

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Research shows family vacations can be integral to a child's personal development.

While school attendance should undoubtedly be a priority for families, just as days of from work are sometimes necessary for adults, so are days off from school for kids — especially when those days off are spent with family. Research has shown that family trips can serve as "happiness anchors" for children, helping to ground them in future times of stress and anxiety. 

“As a clinical psychologist, parent, former teacher and former school counselor, I absolutely believe that there can be substantial benefits to pulling children out of school for travel," clinical psychologist Carla Marie Manly, PhD, told Travel + Leisure. “When parents use the travel environment as a natural platform for education, the learning opportunities can far exceed those that are present in the confines of a classroom," she added.


Rossi acknowledged that the principal was only doing her job.

According to ABC affiliate 16 WNEP, the school district responded to Rossi's post on its website, writing, "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."

Schools have attendance policies for a reason. As with everything, moderation is key, and family blogger Leslie Harvey has suggested taking into account your child's school performance and prior attendance before pulling them out of school. 

Rossi eventually published a follow-up Facebook post asking people not to send hate mail to the school district. 

"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," he wrote.


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