D.C. Council member Janeese Lewis George (D-Ward 4) recently introduced legislation that, if passed, would charge the Office of the State Superintendent with developing a conflict resolution curriculum for District public and public charter schools.
That legislation was, in part, inspired by existing programs, like the Conflict Resolution Youth Justice Restorative, that equip District youth with the skills needed to regulate their emotions and peacefully resolve conflicts.
As the Conflict Resolution Youth Justice Restorative’s founder and lead practitioner, Greg Newby uses boxing, physical fitness and healthy eating to convey the importance of emotional intelligence and mental fortitude.
For the last four years, Newby has executed this program at Capital City Public Charter School and Cardozo High School in Northwest, along with North Bethesda Middle School and Westland Middle School in Bethesda, Maryland. He said he’s currently solidifying contracts with MacFarland Middle School in Northwest.
Newby, a professional lightweight boxer and boxing coach at the University of Maryland College Park, said the Conflict Resolution Youth Justice Restorative reflects his coming of age in the District during the 1980s and 1990s, and what he observed about boxers who kept a level head throughout various situations.
At a time when young people are exposed to a plethora of messages on social media, Newby said that District schools could benefit from the implementation of a curriculum that compels some emotional balance.
“There’s not a one-size-fits-all [model] but I want young people to walk from the program knowing that it takes a split second to ruin your life,” Newby said. “I want them to know the difference between their feelings and reality [so] they can talk about their feelings and see that there are like-minded people and people who love them.”
Newby recently joined Lewis George and Linda Ryder, founder of the conflict resolution and social justice nonprofit Peace of Mind, in front of Ida B. Wells Middle School in Northwest to film a promotional video about Lewis George’s legislation, titled the Conflict Resolution Education Amendment Act.
Lewis George introduced the Conflict Resolution Education Amendment Act, on July 10.
Co-sponsors include D.C. Council members Robert White (D-At large), Christina Henderson (I-At Large), Brianne Nadeau (D-Ward 1), Brooke Pinto (D-Ward 2), and Charles Allen (D-Ward 6).
According to the legislation, conflict resolution curriculum would be adopted at each grade level and in accordance with D.C.’s health education standards. The model curriculum includes workshops focused on peer mediation and restorative practices. Other provisions include a requirement that D.C. Public Schools receives input from its local school advisory teams on the adequacy of resources for conflict resolution education at each school.
During the 2025-2026 academic year, each school would have to certify its adoption of the curriculum with OSSE. LSATs can also use a portion of the budget development process to appeal for more resources necessary in facilitating their conflict resolution programs.
Lewis George said that the Conflict Resolution Education Amendment Act amplifies the ongoing work that’s needed to prevent young people from resorting to violence to settle disagreements.
“We have an issue with the proliferation of guns that we can’t solve on the local level [but] we can equip our young people with the ability to regulate emotions so they can process it in a better way,” Lewis George said. “Our students are still in the process of learning. We should be charged with equipping them with conflict resolution skills so [they become] young adults who know how to make positive choices and not resort to getting a gun.”
In recent weeks, public officials and community members have collaborated around quelling youth violence. In July, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, the Metropolitan Police Department and a bevy of community-based organizations conducted the 13th annual “Breaking the Silence on Youth Violence” anti-violence summit. That event focused on violence prevention, understanding differences, anti-bullying and mental health awareness.
Even more recently, the William O. Lockridge Community Foundation hosted a community forum at Ballou Senior High School in Southeast where principals from Ballou, H.D. Woodson High School, Eastern Senior High School and KIPP Legacy College Preparatory revealed their school safety strategy before an audience of parents, teachers and community members.
During the program, participants explained how they mitigate conflicts between students and received community feedback in preparation for the upcoming school year.
All the while, Machi Green is preparing for his senior year, in part by training with Newby.
Machi, a rising senior at Capital City Public Charter School, participated in the Conflict Resolution Youth Justice Restorative during the last school year. Before then, Machi hadn’t considered boxing as an extracurricular activity.
However, as his mother Brandie Green told the Informer, Machi fell in love with the sport and easily took to the lessons that Newby imparted during their sessions at Capital City Public Charter School. Green credits the program with increasing Machi’s commitment to school and increasing his focus.
“Machi doesn’t get into conflict but the class has helped him advocate more for himself. He also learned team building, personal growth and more about what he’s able to tolerate,” Green said as she explained the bigger picture. “There are a lot of young people facing hardship and bullying [who] are not able to use their aggression in a better way. This gives them something to look forward to.”