Board of Education Approves New Important Holiday
During Black History Month, Madera Unified School District’s board of education was one of the first school boards in California to approve the recognition and commemoration of Juneteenth by adding it to the list of recognized holidays with retro pay for the previous school year.
The decision was unanimous, with the vote coming down to 6-0 from elected board trustees and 2-0 preferential student trustee votes. Recognizing Juneteenth was essential to the school district, and district leaders wanted to make sure all staff, parents, and students understand the importance of the holiday.
Todd Lile, Superintendent, stated, “Let’s do the right thing here, and let’s embrace this as a moment of education and celebration, and let’s change the trajectory of the past.”
Madera Unified employees will see the new holiday in effect this school year. Last year when Juneteenth was declared a federal holiday, the district work calendars had already been set for the entire year; therefore, Madera Unified could not adequately react to the passage of this law. With retro pay, employees who were required to work on June 18, 2021, will be compensated for their time.
Cheri Giddens, CSEA chapter 169 president, said about the exciting news, “I knew we would get where we are now and put it in our collective bargaining agreement, and I think that our employees… I think they will be very thankful that they work for a district that was willing to do that very easily.”
According to History.com, Juneteenth can be defined as the following, “Juneteenth (short for “June Nineteenth”) marks the day when federal troops arrived in Galveston, Texas in 1865 to take control of the state and ensure that all enslaved people be freed. The troops’ arrival came a full two and a half years after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation.”
Juneteenth National Independence Day is a US federal holiday. After a unanimous vote of 100 senators, it was signed into law by President Joe Biden on Thursday, June 17, 2021.
— Seleyna Mendoza, Managing Editor