Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson

AGO 1960 No. 168 - Dec 21 1960
Attorney General John J. O'Connell


January 2, 1961, is a legal holiday but not a school holiday.  However, January 2, 1961, may in the discretion of the board of directors of a school district, be included within the "Christmas Vacation" established by the board.

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                                                               December 21, 1960

Honorable R. DeWitt Jones
Prosecuting Attorney
Clark County
301 Court House
Vancouver, Washington                                                                                           Cite as:  AGO 59-60 No. 168

Dear Sir:

            By letter previously acknowledged you requested an opinion of this office on a question which we paraphrase as follows:

            May a school district require its teachers to conduct regular classes on Monday, January 2, 1961, or is that day a school holiday as well as a legal holiday?

            It is our opinion that the board of directors of a school district may, in the exercise of its discretion, require its teachers to conduct classes on January 2, 1961.  January 2, 1961 is a legal holiday but not a school holiday.


            During its 1955 session the legislature passed an amendatory act, chapter 20, Laws of 1955, "relating to holidays."  Legal holidays are defined in section one thereof; school holidays  [[Orig. Op. Page 2]] in section two.  For the purpose of this opinion, we deem it advisable to set forth these sections in full as follows:

            Section 1.

            "The following are legal holidays: Sunday; the first day of January, commonly called New Year's Day; the twelfth day of February, being the anniversary of the birth of Abraham Lincoln; the twenty-second day of February, being the anniversary of the birth of George Washington; the thirtieth day of May, commonly known as Memorial Day; the fourth day of July, being the anniversary of the Declaration of Independence; the first Monday in September, to be known as Labor Day; the twelfth day of October, to be known as Columbus Day; the eleventh day of November, to be known as Veterans' Day; the twenty-fifth day of December, commonly called Christmas Day; the day on which any general election is held throughout the state; and any day designated by public proclamation of the chief executive of the state as a legal holiday, or as a day of thanksgiving.

            "Whenever any legal holiday, other than Sunday, falls upon a Sunday, the following Monday shall be a legal holiday."  (RCW 1.16.050) (Emphasis supplied.)

            Section 2.

            "No teacher shall be required to teach school on Saturday, Labor Day, Veterans' and Admission Day, Thanksgiving Day and the day immediately following Thanksgiving Day, Christmas, New Year's, Washington's Birthday, Memorial Day or Fourth of July:  Provided, That no reduction from the teacher's time or salary shall be made by reason of the fact that a school day happens to be one of the days referred to in this section as a day on which school shall not be taught."  (RCW 28.02.060) (Emphasis supplied.)

            It is an oft quoted rule of statutory construction that, in construing a statute, legislative intent must be gleaned from a consideration of the whole act and that the court will not place a  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] narrow, liberal or technical construction upon only a part of the statute and ignore other relevant parts.  DeGrief v. Seattle, 50 Wn. (2d) 1, 297 P. (2d) 940 (1956); State v. Rinkes, 49 Wn. (2d) 664, 306 P. (2d) 205 (1959).

            Applying this rule, it is apparent that there are several significant distinctions between legal and school holidays as defined above:  (1) there are more legal holidays than school holidays; (2) the day immediately following Thanksgiving Day is a school but not a legal holiday; (3) the legislature has directed that if alegal holiday (other than Sunday) falls on a Sunday, "the following Monday shall be a legal holiday" -no similar provision applies where aschool holiday falls on Sunday.

            In an opinion to the Honorable Thurman E. Ward, Prosecuting Attorney, Klickitat County, dated April 29, 1958 (AGO 57-58 No. 186) we had occasion to interpret section 2, chapter 20, Laws of 1955 (RCW 28.02.060) supra.  Therein, because of the legislative prohibition we held that a school district could not hold regular classes on Saturday even on a voluntary basis and qualify for regular state apportionment credit.  While we reaffirm this holding, it is not controlling in this case since the day here in question, January 2, 1961, viz. the day immediately following New Year's day, is not a day on which a school district is prohibited from requiring a teacher to teach.

            It is our opinion that, under the language quoted above, if a school holidayhappens to fall on Sunday, the following Monday is not a school holiday.  We feel a careful reading of the proviso of section 2, chapter 20, Laws of 1955 (RCW 28.02.060) supra will affirm this conclusion.

            Likewise, we believe our conclusion is supported by the application of the familiar rule of expressio unius est exclusio alterius -the expression of one thing is the exclusion of all others.  See DeGrief v. Seattle, supra; Bradley v. Department of Labor and Industries, 52 Wn. (2d) 780, 329 P. (2d) 196 (1958); State v. Thompson, 38 Wn. (2d) 774, 232 P. (2d) 87 (1951).  The legislature made express provision where a legal holiday (other than Sunday) falls on Sunday but made no similar provision in the case of school holidays.

            Accordingly, we must conclude that a school district may, in the exercise of its discretion, require its teachers, in the absence  [[Orig. Op. Page 4]] of a contract provision to the contrary, to conduct regular classes on Monday, January 2, 1961 and thus qualify for regular apportionment credit.

            We should like to mention, however, that nothing we have stated herein is to be construed as requiring school to be taught on January 2, 1961.  This is a matter which must be decided by the local board of directors.  It might well be that in some districts the Christmas Vacation period established by the local boards of directors will include January 2, 1961.  Such is certainly within the power of the board (see opinion written to the Honorable R. B. Bryan, dated June 20, 1905; opinion written to the Honorable Sam H. Nichols, Secretary of State, dated April 21, 1905) and, if the standard form for teacher's contracts issued by the State Superintendent of Public Instruction is used by the district, noactual school day will be lost.  The standard form provides in pertinent part as follows:

            ". . . said teacher shall be employed to teach in the public schools of said district, and is to perform such duties as are prescribed by the laws of the State of Washington, and by the rules and regulations made thereunder pertaining to said district, for one year, which shall include [ordinarily 180 days] actual teaching days, exclusive of holidays and vacations, . . ."  (Emphasis supplied.)

            Of course, if no school is held on January 2, 1961, the district cannot qualify for the regular apportionment for that day.

            We trust that the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

Attorney General

Assistant Attorney General