24-hour Attendance Phone Line


Windward High School

Attendance Policy and Procedures

Daily attendance is critical for ensuring student academic growth and success. Because of this, Windward High School expects each student to attend his/her classes daily. An absence shall be excused when the absence is due to illness or a health condition; school-approved activity; family emergency; and/or religious observance. Any absence where a legitimate excuse, as defined above, is not adequately documented shall be deemed unexcused (FSD Board Policy 3122 P-1). If a student is absent, it is important that the parent or guardian inform the school of the specific reason for the absence the same day, using our attendance e-mail or attendance phone line. This practice enables Windward High School to best support student academic growth and success.

Reporting Absences: Unexpected and Planned


  • Please report the specific reason for your student’s absence on the same day as the absence by emailing susan.rhodes@ferndalesd.org or by calling our 24-hour attendance phone line: 360-383-9345.
  • If your student is expected to be out for more than a day, please report the expected timeframe to the school’s attendance e-mail or phone-line and update us as the timeframe changes.
  • If your family is planning on an absence in the future that is one (1) or more days, please report this to our attendance e-mail or phone line before the absence occurs.
  • If the pre-planned absence is two (2) or more days, please have your student request a Pre-Arranged Absence form from the office and submit the completed form to the office prior to the absence. Per FSD Board Policy 3122 P-1: “Temporary absences for agreed activities upon parental request shall be excused if the following conditions are met:
    • parent made request in writing stating reason and duration
    • principal approves the request and the proposed absence is not likely to cause a serious adverse effect on the student's educational progress.”

Windward Students:

  • You are responsible for checking with your parent/guardian and/or your Student Access account to make sure the reason for your absence/s have been reported, the same day as your absence.
  • If your parent/ guardian needs your help communicating your absences on the same day, it is your responsibility to report the reason for your absence on our attendance e-mail: susan.rhodes@ferndalesd.org or our 24-hour attendance phone line: 360-383-9345.

Excused and Unexcused Absences:

State Law, District and School Policy determines how the school responds when students accrue several excused absences and/or unexcused absences. The purpose of knowing the reasons for a student’s absences is to understand how best to support student academic growth and school success.

Excessive Excused Absences

Students who have 5 or more excused absences in a trimester will be invited to an attendance check-in/conference with a Windward staff during the lunch period. Staff may also conference with a parent/guardian onsite or by phone, and families will receive a letter warning that their student is in jeopardy of loss of credit (see below), because it only takes 1 unexcused absence after 8 or more excused absences to trigger loss of credit for a class.

Absences due to a Health Condition

Parents/guardians with students who have accrued 5 or more excused absences in a trimester and/or 10+ excused absences in a year for medical reasons may be asked to share healthcare provider’s verification for subsequent absences, as well as medical documentation for a student’s health condition. The purpose of this is to share medical information with the school nurse and/or school counselor to provide any necessary accommodations to support a student’s academic success.

Unexcused Absences (Truancy)

Students who have an unexcused absence are deemed truant, are in violation of Washington State Law (RCW 28A.225.010), and are jeopardizing their ability to have success in their courses of study. Students with an unexcused absence any given week will be invited to a required attendance check-in/ conference with a school staff during the lunch period. Per State attendance laws, students who accrue 2 unexcused absent days in a month (6 unexcused absent periods) and/or 5 or more unexcused absent days in a year (25 unexcused absent periods) will be required to participate in an attendance conference with WHS staff and parent/guardians to:

  1. identify the reasons for the unexcused absence(s);
  2. problem-solve and define solutions to eliminate any future unexcused absence;
  3. and enter into an agreement that establishes any further school attendance requirements.

Per State Law RCW 28A.225.030, also known as the Becca Bill, Windward High School and Ferndale School District is required to file a petition with Whatcom County Juvenile Court System after students have accumulated seven (7) unexcused absences in one month or ten (10) unexcused absences in a school year. If a petition is filed, the student is required to stand before a judge and explain reasons for being in court; the judge will order the student to school; and if the student continues to have unexcused absences, the student faces consequences such as community service and juvenile detention. Note: Windward High School staff take every opportunity to problem-solve and eliminate student unexcused absences before filing a petition with the courts.

Loss of Credit due to Lack of Attendance

If the combined excused and unexcused absences in a given class during a trimester exceeds eight (8), the student will be denied credit and will need to appeal to earn back that credit. Appeal Hearings are held during the last week of each trimester.

  • Excused and unexcused absences count toward the 8 absence limit as follows:
    • Excused absences are defined in the opening paragraph of the Attendance Policy (above). Excused absences count toward the 8 absence limit in conjunction with unexcused absences.
    • Unexcused absences for any reason count toward the 8 absence limit.
    • If the 8 or more absences have been caused by long-term extenuating circumstances or an extended chronic health condition, as listed on a documented 504 Plan or IEP, or has been preapproved by an administrator, the student or parent/guardian should produce the appropriate documents. In cases where a student also has unexcused absences, the student may still need to appeal for credit.
    • Discipline (YC: juvenile offense; SO: out of school suspension; and SI: in school suspension) do not count as part of the 8 absences (RCW 13.34.300 and WAC 180-40-235, 180-40-260).
  • It is the goal of the Windward High School Attendance Policy to keep students and parents/guardians aware of accumulated time spent out of class. Letters will be sent to all students who are in danger of exceeding the 8-absence limit for classes during a trimester. An attendance printout will accompany the letter, and the following actions should be taken:
    • Students who have exceeded the 8 absence limit with excused absences only (have no unexcused absences on record), and are receiving passing grades in all classes will be waived from the appeal process and given credit for the class. However, students must be aware that excessive excused absences do affect class performance and may reduce the student’s grades.
    • Students with 8 or more absences will remain in classes and be allowed to go through the appeal process if they are receiving a passing grade at the time of the appeal request. When a student reaches the 8-absence limit, it is their responsibility to remain in the class and continue making progress toward a passing grade prior to the appeal.
    • Students whose grades have been changed to an “NC” (no credit) due to excessive absences in a class must complete an Attendance Appeal Form, which is available in the main office or on our website. Take the Attendance Appeal Form and the attendance printout to the teacher for comments and signatures. Obtain comments and signatures from your NAV advisor and your parent and/ or guardian. Only classes with passing grades can be appealed for credit.
    • Turn in the completed Appeal Form and attendance printout for each class affected to the office before the deadline listed on the letter. After all completed forms are turned in to the office, you may schedule a conference with the Attendance Appeal Committee during appeal appointment times. The Attendance Appeal Committee is composed of an administrator and a counselor.
    • You must attend the scheduled conference and bring to the appointment a grade printout and any doctor’s notes or other pertinent information explaining the special circumstances of your absences. You may also arrange for your parent or guardian, and/or any teacher/advisor to attend the conference with you for purposes of aiding in your appeal.
    • The Attendance Appeal Committee will thoughtfully consider the appropriateness and circumstances of each absence record and will notify you of its decision within 1-3 days of the Attendance Appeal Hearing. If you fail to take the above actions by the appointment dates you will forfeit your chance to appeal.
    • If the credit is denied or you fail to complete an appeal within the appointment dates, an “NC” (no credit) will be assigned to your transcript. If the appeal is approved, your final class grade (including the final exam) will be entered on your transcript.

Student Support Services

Windward High School encourages all students – and especially those at risk for loss of credit – to take advantage of one or more of our academic support services. Please contact the counselor, principal, or a teacher if you would like to know more about these services.

  • SAIL—Study and Independent Learning after school
  • Community Mentor
  • Before and after school teacher assistance

Excessive Unexcused Absences—Withdraw from the Class

Students who accumulate 8 or more unexcused absences in a class, who elect not to appeal and remediate their loss of credit for the class, may be withdrawn from the class. Students withdrawn from a class must be off-campus during that class period. If the Principal makes the determination to withdraw the student from the class due to excessive absences, the student and parent/guardian may appeal the decision to the Principal.

Catastrophic Illness or Injury

During the course of the trimester, any student who contracts a serious illness or suffers an incapacitating injury which keeps them out of school for three or less weeks is expected to complete the work missed when his or her medical condition permits. Students may get homework from the teacher or the school website. If a student misses more than three weeks of school because of a medical condition, parents or guardians should contact the Nurse, Counselor, or Principal to discuss a home/hospital option.

Tardy Policy

At the start of class students are expected to be sitting at their desks ready to learn. If students walk into the classroom after the class starts, they are considered tardy. Any tardy that is greater than ten (10) minutes will be recorded as an absence – either excused or unexcused based on the descriptions below.

  • Excused Tardy: A tardy is excused if the student brought a note to the main office from a parent / guardian for an acceptable reason, such as an illness or unanticipated emergency. A tardy will also be excused if a school staff member provides a note saying they were meeting with the student.
  • Unexcused Tardy: When a student does not have a note from a parent /guardian / teacher with an acceptable reason to be tardy, they will be unexcused. Examples of unacceptable reasons include: oversleeping, chronic transportation problems including a missed bus or ferry, shopping, babysitting, etc. The policy for unexcused tardies is:
    • 3 tardies: Advisor will meet with student and discuss the situation.
    • 4th tardy: Referral to principal, who will assign a lunch meeting.
    • Continued tardies may result in further discipline assigned by the principal.

Absences Due to School Activities

Participation in a co-curricular program, activity, or school-sponsored field trip is considered school business and is an excused absence. Work due in any classes that are going to be missed on the day of the scheduled absence must be handed in prior to leaving for the activity. Students are expected to complete and turn in the next day’s class work on time. Students who do not complete the assigned class work or who do not turn in work to the teacher on the next class day will be subject to the missed work policy.

Make Up of Missed Work Policy

The single most important factor in school success is regular daily attendance. The staff at Windward expect students to make up all missed class work and homework, whether the student’s absence was excused or unexcused. Following are the guidelines for making up missed work:

  1. If the absence was not pre-arranged, it is the student’s responsibility to contact teachers by email to request work they missed. If the absence was pre-arranged, the student should follow the instructions on the Pre-Arranged Absence Form (available in the main office).
  2. Teachers will grade missed work per the policy stated in their class syllabus.