COLUMBUS — State Rep. Michele Lepore-Hagan, D-Youngstown, today signed onto a concurrent resolution urging Congress to designate June 19 a paid federal holiday.
This date would be known as Juneteenth Independence Day in recognition of June 19, 1865, when news of the end of slavery reached the southwestern states two months after the end of the American Civil War.
“Commemorating Juneteenth as a paid federal holiday will allow us a moment of reflection,” Lepore-Hagan said in a news release. “This is an important date in our history when we inched just a little closer toward justice for all. If we ever wish to move closer toward greater equality, we must acknowledge the stain of racism on our country.”
The resolution comes on the heels of civil unrest across the nation in support of racial equity and justice for African American communities.
Meanwhile, Lepore-Hagan along with other Democratic lawmakers sent a letter to Ohio Department of Education Superintendent Paolo DeMaria urging that he follow the original intent of Congress when it passed the CARES Act to provide support and target relief to students who need it most.
The request follows conflicting guidance from the U.S. Department of Education that states CARES Act funds should instead be distributed to all students regardless of their family’s income.
“There are children in Ohio that need our help," Lepore-Hagan said. "This funding is meant for the students who need it most, and that’s exactly how Ohio should spend it."
She said the CARES Act utilizes the Title I formula to distribute funds. Title I specifically provides financial assistance to local educational agencies for children from low-income families to help ensure that all children meet challenging state academic standards.
The letter explains that following the U.S. Department of Education’s guidance would weaken Ohio’s ability to address the needs of low-income children, children with disabilities, students experiencing homelessness and foster care youth.