Conflict Resolution: Taking an Evidence-Based Approach

Page 1


Report of Philadelphia City Council’s Committee on Education Chair: Honorable Maria D. Quiñones Sánchez Resolution Sponsor: Honorable Katherine Gilmore Richardson Pursuant to Resolution No. 200430

Office of Katherine Gilmore Richardson Councilmember At-Large | City Hall Room 581 | (215) 686-0454 Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson



TABLE OF CONTENTS Background ........................................................................................... 1 Introduction .......................................................................................... 2 Panel Descriptions ................................................................................ 3 Hearing Findings ................................................................................... 5 Hearing Recommendations ................................................................. 10 Appendix A (Resolution No. 200430) .................................................. 12 Appendix D (Chief Kevin Bethel’s Testimony) ...................................... 16 Appendix F (Theron Pride’s Testimony) ............................................... 20 Appendix G (Jerry Jordan’s Testimony) ............................................... 21 Appendix H (Dr. Kathleen Reeves’s Testimony) ................................... 22

BACKGROUND ABOUT THE HEARINGS AND THIS REPORT Resolution No. 200430 authorized City Council’s Committee on Education to conduct a hearing to explore the benefits of the School District of Philadelphia mandating conflict resolution training at all curriculum levels. This resolution was the second resolution heard in the Committee on Education on Thursday, November 12, 2020, and featured witnesses from the School District of Philadelphia as well as the Office of Violence Prevention and Temple University. This report is derived from the verbal and written testimony given during the hearing and related resources available after the hearing.

CITY COUNCIL COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION All matters relating to education in the public schools of Philadelphia excepting matters referred to the Committee of the Whole. COMMITTEE MEMBERS Councilmember Maria D. Quiñones Sánchez, Chair Councilmember Helen Gym, Vice Chair Councilmember Kendra Brooks Councilmember David Oh Councilmember Mark Squilla Councilmember Isaiah Thomas Councilmember Jamie Gauthier


INTRODUCTION Effective communication and stress management skills are widely valued in our communities and workplaces. As a central place where children learn and grow, schools must offer curricula that address hard and soft skills. This is even more important in Philadelphia where a significant number of our children live in poverty, are impacted by gun violence, and may deal with a multitude of other traumas in the home. While the School District of Philadelphia has started integrating trauma-informed learning into its operations, it has yet to commit to mandatory district-wide conflict resolution programs. This report details the findings from the Thursday, November 12, 2020 hearing on Resolution 200430 and presents the importance of mandatory conflict resolution in schools. The report also offers recommendations for the School District, the Administration, and City Council to implement these programs.


PANEL DESCRIPTIONS PANEL 1: SCHOOL DISTRICT OF PHILADELPHIA The first panel featured two officials from the School District of Philadelphia. Dr. Abigail Gray spoke about the School District’s current plans for conflict resolution and trauma management. Dr. Jayme Banks testified about the new programs dealing with trauma and mental health that have been started over the past year. Chief Kevin Bethel testified regarding the school resource officer training and focus on restorative justice. Lastly, Joyce Wilkerson offered written testimony to explain the Board of Education’s position on conflict resolution for students. • Abigail Gray, PhD, Deputy Chief of School Climate and Culture, School District of Philadelphia •Jayme Banks, PsyD, MBA, Deputy Chief of Prevention, Intervention and Trauma, School District of Philadelphia • Kevin Bethel, Chief of School Safety, School District of Philadelphia • Joyce Wilkerson, President, Board of Education PANEL 2: GUN VIOLENCE EXPERTS The second panel featured Theron Pride from the Office of Violence Prevention and Dr. Kathleen Reeves from the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University. Pride spoke about the need to work and expand conflict resolution programs in schools. Dr. Reeves testified about her experience as a physician and the need for the School District and the City to change its current approach to gun violence. • Theron Pride, Senior Director of Violence Prevention Strategies and Programs, Office of Violence Prevention1 • Kathleen Reeves, MD, Senior Associate Dean, Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion, Lewis Katz School of Medicine, Temple University PANEL 3: COMMUNITY-BASED ADVOCATES The third panel featured written statements from Tamir Harper from UrbEd and Jerry Jordan from the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers. Both witnesses offered statements calling for district-wide mandatory programs to address conflict resolution. • Tamir Harper, Executive Director, UrbEd • Jerry Jordan, President, The Philadelphia Federation of Teachers

1 Theron Pride has since left the Office of Violence Prevention.


PANEL 4: STUDENTS The fourth panel featured testimony from two students: Tysheed Hatchell from Youth Court and Kaylee Suarez from Juniata Park Academy. Tysheed testified about the benefits and learning experiences offered in Youth Court. Kaylee offered a personal story about how she was able to learn how to handle trauma without violence. • Tysheed Hatchell, Student, Philadelphia Military Academy (Youth Court) • Kaylee Suarez, Student, Juniata Park Academy

PUBLIC COMMENT Marie Patterson is the Chair of the Dobbins School Advisory Committee and offered her knowledge of what the School District needs to improve and change.


HEARING FINDINGS Philadelphia is experiencing a gun violence epidemic that has claimed the lives of children. 2020 was one of the deadliest and most violent years in Philadelphia’s history. There were 2,254 shootings, 405 of which were fatal.2 Additionally, there were 305 children aged 18 or younger that were victims of gun violence, with 35 of those children dying.3 While there are many factors that have caused this dramatic and tragic increase, it is clear that many young people, some of whom are students in the School District of Philadelphia (SDP), struggle to resolve conflicts and disputes, no matter how small, peacefully.4 I want to make something very clear. The School District of Philadelphia has lost no students to COVID-19 but has lost many to violence in the city of Philadelphia. So if we truly believe that the youth are our future we must allow them to reach that future. If we truly want to have safer streets. If we truly want to see our homicide rate decrease we must implement a conflict resolution curriculum. -Tamir Harper: Written Testimony p. 1. In the past, SDP has had conflict resolution programs on some level, but 2020 has provided evidence that we need to take a significantly more expansive approach to gun violence prevention and intervention. The gun violence epidemic must be approached like a public health crisis. The research is clear: gun violence is an epidemic that spreads beyond one family or one neighborhood, in the same way COVID-19 can spread.5 Children of all races, creeds, and economic backgrounds can experience tremendous trauma. Therefore, we must use a public health approach and start with the foundation that all SDP students can benefit from conflict resolution training and trauma-informed care. Evidence-based models that take a public health approach to gun violence prevention and intervention have been successful in Philadelphia.

2 Office of the Controller. “Mapping Philadelphia’s Gun Violence Crisis.” Accessed on January 12, 2021. 3 Id. 4 “Police: Teen shot, killed following possible dispute over cell phone in North Philadelphia.” September 1, 2020. Accessed on January 12, 2021. 5 Dr. Reeves: Transcript p. 203.


Cure Violence, on the other hand, attempts to address violence before it happens by deploying people with past involvement in violence as credible messengers in a norm-changing campaign. The premise is that violence is “transmitted” from one individual to another through violent acts. The goal is to identify conflicts in the community and deescalate before anyone picks up a gun. Similarly, these “violence interrupters” arrive at crime scenes after shootings to attempt to prevent any retaliatory behavior by gathering information that might not be available to police. The Editorial Board. “The forgotten public health program that cut homicides by 30% in Philadelphia.” The Philadelphia Inquirer. September 1, 2019. Accessed on January 12, 2021. The Cure Violence model takes a proactive approach, using mental health professionals and trained violence interventionists, not police officers, to help those who would otherwise handle conflict violently. The program helps them learn to better resolve conflicts and cope with trauma to prevent further violence. Currently, the Community Crisis Intervention Program uses similar methods to prevent gun violence in Philadelphia. Gun violence, and the trauma that stems from it, is not isolated to specific neighborhoods or schools, but rather trauma spreads across all areas of the City like “an infectious disease.”6 Evidence, from our own city, shows gun violence drops when children are provided tools to resolve conflict and manage trauma. All children, then, need to learn these skills. All Philadelphia students will benefit from social emotional learning and trauma-informed care. All children must have access to resources and programs implemented by professionals. The District presented information about their approach to trauma-informed care (slide below). Led by experienced professionals, SDP has started implementing “Healing Together,” a collaboration developed in partnership with teachers, counselors, principals, and local and national experts to offer mental health resources and social emotional learning to students and staff.

6 Dr. Reeves: Transcript pgs. 202-203.



While the District clearly understands the importance of trauma-informed care and social-emotional learning, all schools are not receiving the same level of resources. SDP teachers are asking for more from the District, and the evidence supports them. Students at every level of school should receive conflict resolution education, and they should receive so in the form of a robust program developed in collaboration with the educators charged with implementing it. Further, it will be important that a conflict resolution program has the proper training and resources necessary for an effective implementation. This program must be accompanied by extra resources for educators and students. Jerry Jordan: Written Testimony p. 1. Metrics can be used to allocate more resources to address these issues, but they should not be used to determine if resources are allocated at all. SDP has been working to implement an effective base level of social emotional, wellness, and trauma-informed support programming for all students, but conflict resolution is not currently included in that curriculum. The District considers conflict resolution a more intensive service that is provided only to schools or communities most in need.

7 School District PowerPoint. “Conflict Resolution Programming.”


Councilwoman Gilmore Richardson: My Question is centering around how do we use those new models and all of the work that you all are implementing. You talked about the social-emotional learning, the harm and healing mediation, and all of those other models. How do we put them all together, which you have done obviously that we’ve seen in this presentation, and ensure that we make that available to every student from grade K through 12 so that all of our young people are receiving some type of conflict resolution training throughout their entire academic career? How do we do that? Because you talked about some of the programs were just expanded from ten schools to now 104 schools, but how do we ensure that every student in the District has an opportunity, no matter what grade they’re in, to have conflict resolution training? Dr. Gray: Yes. That’s a great question, and it has sort of two levels of answers. The first level is that for some of these services that I’ve described, we are currently providing them to all students. The social-emotional learning initiative, the community meeting, the integration of social-emotional learning in academics, that is a District-wide initiative. So all students now have an opportunity for daily community meeting in their schedule, and we’re hearing really great results and a lot of enthusiasm from schools and students and teachers about how that is going. So that is a District-wide initiative for all students. Some of our more intensive services, we determine where those go based on data. So we identified the schools where the greatest need are and we concentrate the services there. We do this all in alignment with the school’s comprehensive planning process that they do in coordination with the state. So we understand, for example, we have preparation time to sit with the schools, members of my team, members of other teams in the District, and to help schools make really thoughtful, data-driven decisions about what kind of interventions, training, and supports they need. Dr. Abigail Gray: Transcript pgs. 151-153.

SDP officials see value in conflict resolution, but not currently as a preventive, district-wide initiative to develop students’ social and leadership skills.


Councilwoman Gilmore Richardson: …I think really what I’m trying to get to is how we implement citywide conflict resolution training for our young people. Do you know how much you all spend on just conflict resolution programming and its availability to our young people now and is it a funding issue or what would prevent us or preclude us from implementing a citywide conflict resolution model for all of our student? Dr. Gray: I think the biggest barrier that – well, there are a couple of barriers. One is more that we have tremendous diversity within our District, as you know. We have many different contexts. We have many different populations that are school served. We have many different school sizes. And so part of what we offer now is a flexibility for schools to choose approaches and models that make sense for them. So having that sort of diversity of options I believe is extremely important. I think trying to shoehorn kind of a one-size-fits-all approach into all schools would lead to a lot of inconsistent implementation. Dr. Abigail Gray: Transcript pgs. 153-154. It is important that SDP is using evidence to target the most at-risk students for more resources and working with school staff to create programs that will work for their students, but by providing a base level of conflict resolution training to all students, the District would be taking a prevention measure as opposed to crisis response. The District must align its programs with nationwide best practices. SDP has already started using evidence-based models to develop these programs, but there is more work to be done. The District must use a public health model. This would mean operating from a baseline understanding that all of its students deserve support from mental health professionals who can teach them how to non-violently manage conflict, and that by implementing that program, they will be investing in the overall safety of Philadelphia’s communities.


HEARING RECOMMENDATIONS Recommendations for the School District of Philadelphia 1. The School District of Philadelphia should take a trauma-informed, evidence-based approach to providing conflict resolution to all students. The evidence is clear, conflict resolution training must be mandated district wide and more mental health resources must be provided in all schools to reduce gun violence and prepare students for the future. Dr. Gray: …[T]he research is clearer and clearer. We know that this is the direction that we need to go. There’s not a choice. We have to go toward restorative ways of interacting with kids in schools. So I think the commitment is really significant at this time. Dr. Abigail Gray: Transcript p. 146.

Dr. Reeves: We worked together; City and University; we studied Philadelphia Cure Violence in the 22nd police district. We saw 2.5 fewer shootings per 10,000 people per month in Cure Violence sites com- pared to areas without Cure Violence. The key to this program is conflict resolution. Our outreach workers are trained in conflict resolution to de-escalate high risk situations. This takes the power away from the contagion and treats the disease. Like we have done together in the past, we need to imple- ment evidence-based programs that work. And like any good health related intervention, we must implement the program with fidelity. We must implement what was studied if we hope to see the same result. We can’t change the scope of the program and claim that it is the same program that was studied. Dr. Reeves: Transcript pgs. 204-205 Dr. Reeves advocates for Cure Violence, which has a proven track record that resulted in significant improvements in instances of gun violence. By meeting with teachers, parents, students, and experts, many of whom spoke at the hearing, to coordinate a structural change to mandate conflict resolution training and provide schools with more mental health professionals, the District can build on the programs its already developed and equip its students with the tools they need to be successful.


Recommendations for the Administration 1. Gun violence should be declared a public health emergency On September 17th, City Council passed a resolution urging Mayor Kenney to declare an emergency and dedicate all available resources to addressing gun violence. The Mayor has not yet declared an emergency. Since that resolution, 1,010 more Philadelphians have been shot and more than 232 have died, including 18 children under the age of 18.8 The Administration must act immediately and determine what efforts are going into ending gun violence and whether those efforts are successful and effective. The Administration must also utilize every department and agency to advance the common goal of ending gun violence. 2. The Administration and SDP officials should collaborate to ensure conflict resolution training are mandated and more mental health resources are provided in all schools. The Administration can assist SDP in mandating conflict resolution and better allocate resources and funding. City agencies, offices, and departments, such as the Office of Violence Prevention, the Office of Human Resources, the Commerce Department and its Workforce Development unit, the Department of Health, and the Department of Behavioral Health and disAbility Services all must begin taking an active role in gun violence prevention and intervention. Many city offices and departments should be concerned about whether students are being properly prepared for the future. If students cannot resolve conflicts peacefully or cannot cope with trauma effectively, then an unacceptable number of Philadelphians will continue to be lost to gun violence and our City will struggle to compete with our peers. Recommendations for City Council 1. City Council should use the budget process to provide targeted, additional resources. City Council can look at all ways to direct funding to SDP to support district-wide conflict resolution programming and mental health resources. While departments have significant leeway over how they spend their budgets, City Council appropriates funds with the hopes of achieving specific outcomes. City Council can work with SDP leadership to determine where resources need to be directed to ensure these goals are carried out.

8 Office of the Controller. “Mapping Philadelphia’s Gun Violence Crisis.” Accessed on April 5, 2021.


APPENDIX A Resolution No. 200430 Authorizing the Committee on Education to conduct hearings exploring the benefits of the School District of Philadelphia mandating conflict resolution training at all curriculum levels. WHEREAS, Philadelphia is experiencing a wave of gun violence and the number of shootings and homicides has grown steadily since 2007, including more than 100 children who have been shot in 2020 alone, and this already significant number is increasing rapidly; and WHEREAS, Many young people use violence as a first and last resort to deal with conflict because they have not been trained and educated on alternative methods to deal with the normal amount of conflict that is a part of daily life and because many experience anger related to exposure to traumatic events; and WHEREAS, Conflict resolution training seeks to create opportunities for students and other members of the school community to recognize that conflict is a natural part of life and that it can be resolved peacefully. Students will learn to develop awareness of their own unique responses to conflict, understand the diversity with which others respond, learn and practice the principles of conflict resolution and the skills of peaceful problem-solving processes, empower themselves to be individually and cooperatively responsible for resolving conflicts and integrate these responsibilities into their daily lives; and WHEREAS, Conflict resolution teaches young people to deal with conflicts in a number of ways, including competing, avoiding, compromising, collaborating, and accommodating, each to be used in different circumstances; and WHEREAS, It is incumbent upon the School District of Philadelphia and the Board of Education to do everything in their power to ensure Philadelphia is a City that teaches our children to use safer methods of dealing with conflict; now, therefore, be it RESOLVED, THE CITY COUNCIL OF PHILADELPHIA, Will hereby authorize the Committee on Education to conduct hearings exploring the benefits of mandating conflict resolution training at all curriculum levels.





APPENDIX C Advocates for a quality & efficient urban education. TESTIMONY OF TAMIR D. HARPER, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR Councilmember Gilmore-Richardson Council-At-Large Room 581, City Council Philadelphia, PA 19107

November 10, 2020

Greetings Councilmembers, My name is Tamir Harper, class of 2018 graduate of the School District of Philadelphia, former city Youth Commissioner and current executive director UrbEd Inc., an organization led by those who are and have been most affected by the issues facing urban public schools specifically in the city of Philadelphia. Today, I am overjoyed that Philadelphia City Council has moved towards pushing for a curriculum on conflict resolution. During the uprisings against police brutality in the summer months UrbEd called on the district to reimagine school safety & health. We believe if the School District of Philadelphia implements a conflict resolution curriculum we will see the following things changes: - Decreased violence in schools and on the streets - Decreased required spending for School Resource Officers - The increased presence of school counselors that are trained in violence reduction and conflict resolution I want to make something very clear. The School District of Philadelphia has lost no students to COVID-19 but has lost many to violence in the city of Philadelphia. So if we truly believe that the youth are our future we must allow them to reach that future. If we truly want to have safer streets. If we truly want to see our homicide rate decrease we must implement a conflict resolution curriculum. As a future educator I hope that all my students in the future have conflict resolution training during their k-12 experience. This is not something we can be lacadacly on executing. We must implement a conflict resolution curriculum and UrbEd is ready to do whatever is necessary to do so. Sincerely, Tamir D. Harper


APPENDIX D Testimony Kevin Bethel Chief of School Safety Philadelphia School District November 12, 2020 My name is Kevin Bethel, I currently serve as Special Advisor and Chief of School Safety for the Philadelphia School District. I formally served as a Deputy Police Commissioner for the Philadelphia Police Department, retiring in January 2016 after serving 29 years. First, let me thank the Committee and all the Council Members for the opportunity to speak today. I would like to specifically thank Councilwoman Katherine Gilmore Richardson for her leadership in this very important subject matter. As someone who spent nearly three decades in the Philadelphia Police Department, I have seen far too many lives lost due to disagreements that could have easily be resolved. Young people need to be taught how to deal with conflict, and resolve issues peacefully as outlined in the resolution. Last November, I was honored that Superintendent, Dr. Hite brought me onboard to lead the transformation of School Safety and ensure our interactions with students are seen through a restorative lens. Armed with this charge, the Office of School Safety has embarked on a comprehensive strategy to re-envision the Department. To accomplish this, we have created a strategic plan routed in Five Pillars: • Restorative Practices • Training, Education and Recruitment • Community Outreach and Engagement • Research and Data • Officer Wellness Today, I want to focus on restorative practices – as this serves as the foundation for all of our work, and aligns with the goals of this committee. Our work requires that School Safety personnel are properly trained to de-escalate conflicts and give students the tools to constructively solve peer-conflicts and reverse the trend of violence. To accomplish this task the Office of School Safety has embarked on the following activities: • We began by changing our job description to integrate restorative justice practices, dep-escalation training, etc. • Ensure newly hired Safety Officers have a complete understanding of their role, and the importance of fostering positive relationships with both students and staff. • We partnered with the Philadelphia Police Department and Department of Human Services to expand the Philadelphia School Diversion Program – which has led to an 84 percent reduction in school-based arrests. Thanks to Commissioner Outlaw and members of her Executive Team, the Diversion Program will be located at the 16

School District’s Central Office within the Office of School Safety. This will allow us to divert a larger number of students and address the conflicts that have historically led to arrest. • School Safety Officer undergo 40 hours of Safety Cares Training and are re-certified yearly. The program focuses on de-escalation techniques and how to respond appropriately and safely to dangerous behaviors. • A key area of focus by our Office is the ongoing collaboration with Drexel University, University of Pennsylvania and National Institute of Justice to develop the Positive School Safety Program. The program is the first of its kind in the nation which trains officers in a number of skills such as trauma-informed care, positive behavioral interventions and supports (PBIS), etc. We currently have thirty officers who are being trained on this model, and upon completion will be train other members of the Department. The core element of the program is creating positive relationships with students, promote positive student behavior, de-escalation and problem solving. • We are grateful to Karyn Lynch, Chief of Student Services, my colleagues here today, Dr. Gray and Dr. Banks and their entire team for the immense support we have received in our re-envisioning work. As Dr. Gray outlined in her presentation we have taken full advantage of the Relationship First program to train all our personnel on the first level of the restorative circles training. This training is critical for our work as it is enables us to provide a space for students to address their conflicts in a positive manner. • Recently we initiated two programs that we believe will further support our restorative efforts. The first is School Safety Youth Court which aligns with the activity Dr. Gray outlined. The second program is a collaboration with the District’s Office of Strategic Partnerships to support the Leadership Encouraging Achievement & Development (LEAD). This is a mentoring program currently running (virtually) at 2 schools, that connects African American male mentors from the Office of School Safety with African American youth. The Office of School Safety is committed to engaging in a comprehensive process to ensure we are meeting the needs of the students we serve. We aim to be effective and approach our work from a developmental and trauma informed lens. We firmly believe that our restorative practices align with the goals of the resolution presented today, as well as Dr. Hite and the District's goals. Thank you again for the opportunity to speak today and I look forward to answering your questions.


APPENDIX E Joyce S. Wilkerson, President of Board of Education Testimony to City Council School District of Philadelphia November 9, 2020 Good afternoon, Council President Clarke and members of City Council. Thank you for the opportunity to discuss the importance of conflict resolution training. My name is Joyce Wilkerson and I am the President of the Board of Education (“Board”) of the School District of Philadelphia (the “District”). It has been a momentous and difficult year, as our city has faced many challenges including an increase in gun violence. Too many of our young people are witnessing acts of violence in their communities as part of their daily life. Such violence has a profound and long-term impact, especially on our young people. We must act collectively to support our students by ensuring they feel safe in their communities and have the skills they need to address conflict in a peaceful and productive manner. As the governing body of the District, our role is to set a vision for public education in Philadelphia and then to hold the District accountable for meeting that vision. We believe in a school system that provides every student with the tools and experiences they need to reach their fullest potential. In order to achieve this vision, we will set clear student learning goals and guardrails that will protect the conditions needed to make student learning a priority. To actualize this vision, the Board will establish straightforward Goals in three key areas: reading, math, college and career readiness. We’ve also developed Guardrails, or the nonnegotiable conditions that must exist in schools in order to reach our goals. The Guardrails focus on four core areas: welcoming and supportive schools, well-rounded school experiences, partnering with parents/guardians, and addressing racist practices that create a disparate impact for our students. Our first Guardrail is focused on welcoming and supportive schools with clean, safe environments and inclusive climates that offer students access to robust social, emotional, and mental health supports. Under this Guardrail, we hope to see the District expand important programs that will provide students with the tools they need to mediate conflict, build community, and create school environments where all students can thrive. Additionally, Board Policy 218 Student Conduct and Discipline outlines a framework by which the District must publish an annual Code of Conduct. This document includes important information on keeping our students and schools safe. The Code of Conduct also includes information on school-wide and classroom-level strategies that promote conflict resolution training, restorative justice programs, and positive behavior intervention strategies. The Board’s Policy Committee reviews updates to the Code of Conduct annually at the start of each school year. Once the Goals and Guardrails have been adopted, we will monitor the Superintendent and District’s progress on implementing programs and initiatives to achieve this vision. We will monitor progress on a monthly basis by reviewing important data and ensuring that we adopt a budget that is aligned with these priorities. 18

Thank you for your continued partnership and support for our schools. We look forward to monitoring our Goals and Guardrails and discussing our progress with you.


APPENDIX F TESTIMONY OF THERON P. PRIDE, JR. SENIOR DIRECTOR OF THE OFFICE OF VIOLENCE PREVENTION BEFORE THE COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION November 12, 2020 Resolution No. 200430 Good afternoon, Chair Quiñones-Sánchez, Vice Chair Gym and members of the Committee on Education. My name is Theron Pride and I am the Senior Director of Violence Prevention Strategies and Programs for the City of Philadelphia’s Office of Violence Prevention. I appreciate the opportunity to address the Committee regarding the benefits of the School District of Philadelphia mandating conflict resolution training at all curriculum levels. As we continue to combat this epidemic of gun violence in our city and work together to find solutions to address the immediate and root causes of this problem, we greatly appreciate the Committee holding a hearing on this topic of conflict resolution training. There is no question that poor conflict resolution skills are among the factors that contribute to the violence we are experiencing in Philadelphia. In fact, the Philadelphia Police Department often cite an argument as the reason for why a shooting occurred. Moreover, as stated in Resolution number 200430, we agree that many young people use violence as a first and last resort to deal with conflict, because they have not been trained and educated on alternative methods to deal with the normal amount of conflict that is a part of daily life, and because many experience anger related to exposure to traumatic events. We also want to emphasize the point that because so many of our children and youth have been exposed to violence – whether directly or indirectly – any conflict resolution training provided should be trauma-informed. As we noted in our comprehensive, strategic action plan to reduce gun violence – entitled the Philadelphia Roadmap to Safer Communities – violence in the community can prevent young people from feeling safe in their own schools and neighborhoods. Violence and the ensuing psychological trauma can lead young people to adopt an attitude of hyper vigilance, to become experts at detecting threat or perceived threat — never able to let down their guard and always ready for the next outbreak of violence. As we work to help students manage conflict, any training should also help students and staff address the negative effects violence can have on their thinking, emotions and behaviors. With that in mind, we suggest that any conflict resolution training implemented be informed by the research regarding how to address children’s exposure to violence – such as the Report of the Attorney General’s National Task Force on Children Exposed to Violence – and incorporate restorative justice principles and practices that focus on healing as well as accountability. Again, thank you for the opportunity to speak on this matter. I am happy to answer any questions.



Jerry T. Jordan, President Testimony Submission City Council Committee on Education Resolution 200430 November 12, 2020 On behalf of the Philadelphia Federation of Teachers, I thank Councilmember Gilmore Richardson and members of Council for this important resolution. Additionally, I thank Chairwoman Quinones-Sanchez for holding this important hearing. The PFT greatly appreciates the desire to bring proactive conflict resolution training into our schools. As noted in Resolution 200430, gun violence in the City has increased significantly, and as a society we need to be utilizing every possible resource to mitigate the devastation wrought by gun violence. Students at every level of school should receive conflict resolution education, and they should receive so in the form of a robust program developed in collaboration with the educators charged with implementing it. Further, it will be important that a conflict resolution program has the proper training and resources necessary for an effective implementation. This program must be accompanied by extra resources for educators and students. We are encouraged by Council’s desire to address the scourge of gun violence by implementing conflict resolution programs in our schools. We believe it will be an important step forward, and we look forward to working with Councilmember Gilmore Richardson and members of Council to ensure that the program is implemented in a meaningful way for all of our young people.


APPENDIX H City Council Committee on Education Hearing on Implementing Conflict Resolution – Testimony of Dr. Kathleen Reeves Resolution 200430 November 12, 2020 Good afternoon Chairperson Quiñones-Sánchez, Vice-Chairperson Gym, and members of the Committee. My name is Kathleen Reeves. I am a Professor of Pediatrics, Director of the Center for Urban Bioethics, and Senior Associate Dean for Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at the Lewis Katz School of Medicine at Temple University. Thank you for allowing me to participate in this hearing on the importance of conflict resolution in addressing the epidemic of violence in our neighborhoods, communities, and schools. I am an academic clinician and researcher. My job is to bring new knowledge on how to better treat diseases. In collaboration with public health, government, and other university researchers, we have all worked together to prevent and cure many diseases that in the past were thought to be incurable. HIV was once a death sentence, now it is a chronic disease. In the past, society criminalized people with tuberculous; now we have medicine to treat it as the infection that it is. We have also worked together to prevent disease by changing behavior. Forty years ago, at least half of us in this room today would be smoking right now. Today, if any of us lit a cigarette inside this room, it would be seen as completely unacceptable. Each of you will automatically put on your seat belt when you get in your vehicle. It’s habit. Many of us remember never wearing seatbelts as children. Together, we researched evidence on treatments or prevention measures that work and then implemented them. We need to apply this same knowledge to violence. Violence is as contagious as any other infectious disease. The Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute of Health have demonstrated this for over a decade. So, it is quite clear that the solution to gun violence must be based in public health, working the problem like the CDC would handle an epidemic – interrupting the spread, keeping people away from the contagion, dealing with the systemic effects that violence has on an individual’s physiology and psychology, and vaccination. We have evidence of a solutions that works. A plan that was researched right here in Philadelphia. We worked together; City and University; we studied Philadelphia Cure Violence in the 22nd police district. We saw 2.5 fewer shootings per 10,000 people per month in Cure Violence sites compared to areas without Cure Violence. The key to this program is conflict resolution. Our outreach workers are trained in conflict resolution to de-escalate high risk situations. This takes the power away from the contagion and treats the disease. Like we have done together in the past, we need to implement evidence-based programs that work. And like any good health related intervention, we must implement the program with fidelity. We must implement what was studied if we hope to see the same result. We can’t change the scope of the program and claim that it is the same program that was studied. During 2018, over half of the shootings in Philadelphia occurred in six of the police districts. That was over 650 shootings. Over 350,000 people live in these police districts. Based on our data, if Cure Violence was present and conflict resolution was implemented; in just these six police districts, we can 22

conservatively project a reduction of 185 shootings. That’s 185 fewer people shooting and about 220 fewer people shot. What about our schools? Philadelphia has experienced some of the highest rates of school violence of any city in the country. I would like to start by sharing the stories of two children who grew up in similar ways, but had unique experience, which led to different outcomes. I would like to share their journey and the role that trauma played in their lives. Their names have been changed to protect their privacy. 'Michael' Michael grew up in the North Philadelphia. He had a brother who was two years older than him. Michael and his brother were raised by their grandmother. They were placed in her care by child protective services when their mother was deemed unfit to care for them. Their mother suffered from depression and anxiety and had become addicted to heroin. When Michael was eight years old, his mother left the children alone for almost a week. Michael never met his father but had been told he was in jail. Michael's grandmother was a wonderful, hardworking woman. She provided Michael and his brother with a good place to stay, good food as best she could, and love. No matter what she did, it seemed Michael and his brother were on a bad path. Michael had been physically abused by individuals his mother would bring home. Oftentimes, he would see them hurt her. When he was in his mother's care, he often went hungry. And when his brother was 14, he was shot and killed only blocks from their home. In school, Michael quickly earned the reputation of being a “difficult student.” If someone bumped him in the hallway, he often reacted by pushing back or punching the other student. One day he was in his seventh-grade math class. The student next to him made a joke when Michael received an F on a test. Michael picked up his desk and threw it at the other student. The teacher grabbed him by the arm and physically pulled him to the principal's office. The police were called. He was forced to leave the school. He was suspended and his grandmother was told his behavior would no longer be tolerated. She didn't know what to do. Michael stopped going to school. He became well-known in the juvenile system. He started getting into legal trouble when he was 15. That year, he stole a car — twice, according to court records. Another time, he snatched a woman's purse. Police also caught him with a .25-caliber handgun. Since spending last summer under house arrest with an electronic monitor around his ankle, he had managed to steer clear of trouble. Two weeks before Christmas, police caught him allegedly with a gun on his way to his court-mandated after-school program. He spent Christmas and New Year's in juvenile detention.


'Malia' Malia is also growing up in North Philadelphia. We met her when she was entering seventh grade. Her grandmother was her guardian and was struggling to take care of Malia and her younger brother. Malia and her brother had been taken away from their mother because of her mother’s addiction to heroin and were placed in the custody of her grandmother. Malia’s mother suffered a lot from the trauma she experienced and had issues with depression, addiction and suicidal thoughts. As a result, Malia was often disruptive in school and she was labeled as a ‘difficult’ student who caused problems because of the trauma she experienced from her mother, her mother’s boyfriends and friends, and from the need to take care of her brother and herself because her mother could not. At the same time all of this was happening, Malia started her seventh-grade year at our new trauma informed school. She didn’t realize at first that things were different. Malia was still as careful and fearful as ever. She struggled in the beginning of school. Our trauma informed specialists recognized her pain. They knew she needed additional help. They knew she was traumatized and in pain. It was inevitable. Malia had an altercation. She was “shocked” when, after acting out and getting into a physical fight with another girl during art class, she wasn’t immediately taken to the principal for detention or arrested and kicked out of school. Instead, she was asked if she wanted to go to a restoration room to cool off. “I was given a bottle of water, a gentle pat on the back and time to reflect on my behavior,” that’s what Malia remembered. “Even the school cop talked to me calmly and helped me discuss what I had done.” This is well implemented, conflict resolution in action. There were consequences. She was given a three day in school suspension. But those three days were spent keeping up with her schoolwork while she took part in intense sessions with trained social workers who helped her understand how the trauma she experienced was related to her current behavior. Malia is doing well now, and is a leader in the school. She is part of a program we have with seventh graders to provide them with opportunity to have afterschool programming, summer programming, and support to get into college. Malia has hope and wants to do well in school. She believes she can be successful. She believes she is worthy. The biggest difference between Michael and Malia's school experience is how the adults in the school viewed their behavior, as well as their training and experience in conflict resolution. Malia, in the new trauma informed environment, is seen as a child worth the extra effort of working to resolve her conflict with tested and true techniques; she was showing bad behavior because bad things happened to her; not because she is a bad young woman. That's what a trauma informed school is all about. Since 1998, medicine has known that children who experience significant trauma during childhood are more likely to suffer from heart disease, diabetes, autoimmune disease, addiction and mental health disorders. They are also more likely to commit crimes, be victims of crimes, cause violence, and be arrested. They are less likely to graduate from high school.


Medicine defines traumatic events as 'those in which an individual experiences, witnesses, or is confronted with actual or threatened death or serious injury.' This includes if an individual feels threatened physically or is afraid for the safety of another. For children, such trauma is referred to adverse childhood experiences or ACE's. The Centers for Disease Control, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Substance Abuse, Mental Health Services Administration, and many other professional organizations have stated that trauma informed schools are imperative to stopping school shootings. They are imperative to improving graduation rates. There is not one single cause for why these horrendous acts happen; however, making sure we pick up children who have been traumatized and who are suffering before they are retraumatized, or their experience is intensified, is crucial for them and for all of the students around them. What do we know about the science of why childhood trauma has such a significant affect? Imagine you are in a forest and a bear is chasing you. Your body is very smart. Your adrenaline and cortisol levels go up as do many of your other hormones. These are chemicals that make you react, not think or learn. These are substances that make you able to run and fight, not socialize and interact. It is a great thing to have happen if you are in that forest and a bear is chasing you. But what if the bear comes home every night. What if you have that response every single day. When a young brain is bathed in adrenaline and cortisol, it changes. We see these changes in children who have experienced significant trauma. The parts of the brain most important in learning and socializing are no longer normal. We know that the inflammation present in the blood is much higher than it should be. And when they are stressed, they act out. All is not lost, though. We can reverse some of these changes. There is also evidence that if we use trauma informed, resiliency-based approaches while these kids are still kids, such resiliency is based on conflict resolution techniques taught in trauma informed spaces with educators trained in how to build on resilience and de-escalate violence. This is what Temple’s Philadelphia Healthy and Safe Schools (PHASeS) is all about. PHASeS coordinates with Cure Violence to make resolving conflict central to any first interaction with a violent event. I applaud you for having this hearing; for understanding the science behind violence, its spread, the damage it causes, and the role of conflict resolution in prevention, intervention and treatment. If we want Philadelphia’s streets and Philadelphia’s school children to be safe, we have to help them deal with the trauma they have experienced; we have to teach them the tools they need to resolve conflict before violence erupts. We must provide them with safe places filled with people that understand childhood trauma and the contagious nature of violence. I very much appreciate your time and the opportunity to share my thoughts and our programs with you. We are happy to offer our help however you see fit to move this very important mission forward.



TELEPHONE: (215) 400-7420 FAX: (215) 400-742

October 29, 2020 To Whom It May Concern: We are the Philadelphia Military Academy Youth Court. We are a collective group of students in grades 10-12 who have come together to help students better themselves. We are writing in support of Youth Court because it helps other teens who have had problems in school. Instead of getting suspended, they get opportunities to correct their behavior. Youth Court is important because it helps teenagers to become motivated and to be better citizens in the future. One of the positive aspects of Youth Court is that it is non-punitive. Instead, it is restorative which results in more favorable outcomes. Youth court is also another way for young people to feel comfortable accepting the disposition for their improper actions. Youth Court benefits the members of the court by encouraging us to develop and use our leadership skills and it lets us interact with our peers in a professional manner. Also, Youth Court teaches participants by guiding them in a way that’s helpful and not negative. The respondent gets to have input into his/her own outcome. They are not just told they are wrong. They receive an explanation which helps them fix the problem and helps them avoid doing it again in the future. A positive example of something that happened in our court is when one cadet accepted responsibility and apologized for his actions. After conversing with our Youth Court members and analyzing his behavior, he decided he will do better and make an effort to complete the disposition imposed upon him by the court. Although this is our first year on the court, we are very proud of our accomplishments so far. We look forward to many more in the future. Finally, don’t just take our word for how well our Youth Court works, come see for yourself. If you are interested in observing one of our hearings, please contact Mr. John Papiano from the School District of Philadelphia or Lt. Col. Russell Gallagher from the Philadelphia Military Academy. Respectfully, The Philadelphia Military Academy Youth Court Members



Office of Katherine Gilmore Richardson Councilmember At-Large | City Hall Room 581 | (215) 686-0454 Councilmember Katherine Gilmore Richardson



Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.