Written by: Samantha A. Vajskop, Esq.
In 2021, the passage of a federal law designating Juneteenth (June 19th) as a federal holiday, combined with a subsequent announcement by the Ohio Governor recommending the day as a state holiday, created some confusion about whether school districts in Ohio were required to (or could) provide Juneteenth as a paid holiday for employees. You may remember from our previous post that, based on our analysis, schools were not required to close for the holiday, but they could. If the latest bout of winter storms has you daydreaming of summertime, you may have started to wonder: will Juneteenth of 2022 be different? Yes – well, maybe. Here’s why:
Buried in the Ohio legislature’s several-thousand-page Budget Bill (House Bill 110) are several changes to Ohio’s laws as it relates to Juneteenth. Two of those changes directly impact Ohio’s schools:
- First, the bill amended R.C. 3313.63, which specifies days on which boards of education may dismiss schools. The list now includes “the nineteenth day of June.”
- Second, the bill amended R.C. 3319.087 to provide certain* regular nonteaching school employees with Juneteenth as a paid holiday.
*Wait. Only certain regular nonteaching school employees? Not all employees? Strangely, yes. The Budget Bill amended R.C. 3319.087 to include Juneteenth as a paid holiday only for school employees “employed on a nine or ten month basis.” Juneteenth is also a paid holiday for employees employed less than nine months if Juneteenth falls during the employee’s time of employment. But here’s the strange part: Juneteenth is not listed as one of the paid holidays for those employees “employed on an eleven or twelve month basis.” Notably, there was a proposal to amend R.C. 3319.087 in a way that would have provided Juneteenth as a holiday for 11 and 12-month employees instead of nine and ten-month employees (Senate Bill 78, if you’re curious). That’s just not what ended up in the Budget Bill.
Some resources have chalked this up to a typographical error. For example, the Legislative Service Commission, which provides analyses on Ohio legislation, recognizes the issue and states that omitting 11 and 12-month employees “appears to be a drafting error.” LSC, H.B. 110 Final Analysis, p. 488 fn. 488. But drafting error or not, the statutory text is now law.
And there could be another wrinkle: many school districts may have attempted to address Juneteenth on their own in their collective bargaining agreements. School districts should revisit those agreements to determine how they treat paid holidays for nonteaching employees. Does it simply refer to R.C. 3319.087? Does it contain a specific list of paid holidays? How those changes apply to district employees will depend on how those provisions were worded and the employees to which those provisions apply.
So, what’s new for Juneteenth 2022? There’s still no requirement that schools close on June 19, 2022. However, boards of education are permitted to close based on the changes to R.C. 3313.63, and certain employees may be entitled to that day as a paid holiday depending on their status and on the terms of any applicable collective bargaining agreement. Once again, nothing would prevent a board of education from adopting a policy recognizing Juneteenth as a paid holiday for all employees or from entering into a memorandum of understanding to recognize the holiday.