Public Education Legal Update
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Juneteenth and the School Year Calendar
With the end of the 2020-2021 school year approaching, public school districts in Massachusetts are reminded to update their school calendars for the 2021-2022 and 2022-2023 school years to include Juneteenth (June 19) in their list of observed holidays. 

On July 24, 2020, Governor Baker signed a bill designating Juneteenth as an annual state holiday in Massachusetts in an effort to “recognize the continued need to ensure racial freedom and equality.” Juneteenth, a combination of June and nineteenth, commemorates the end of slavery in the United States. Under state law, all public schools must be closed on statewide holidays. 

This year, June 19 falls on a Saturday which, by state law, means it is celebrated on Saturday. However, in 2022, June 19 falls on a Sunday. Under state law, a legal holiday that falls on a Sunday is observed on the following Monday. In 2023, June 19 falls on a Monday. 

School districts are not obligated by law to provide employees with holiday pay for Juneteenth. However, they may be required to do so under the terms of their collective bargaining agreements. If a collective bargaining agreement only lists the paid holidays to which employees are entitled and the list does not include Juneteenth, unions must bargain for their members to receive Juneteenth as a paid holiday. However, if a collective bargaining agreement states that employees are entitled to all state recognized holidays, bargaining unit members automatically receive Juneteenth as a paid holiday. With respect to non-collective bargaining employees, school districts may wish to treat Juneteenth in the same manner as they do other school holidays in terms of compensation. 
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