11-year-old girl was paid N2.5m as keynote speaker

Marley Dias the creator of the popular #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign, served as keynote speaker for district staff and hosted a student workshop during the Superintendent’s Conference Day on Tuesday, November 8.

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Marley Dias, an 11-year-old whose story has spread around the word and online is the creator of the popular #1000BlackGirlBooks campaign, served as keynote speaker for district staff and hosted a student workshop during the Superintendent’s Conference Day on Tuesday, November 8.

Social media went agog when The Poughkeepsie City School District board majority agreed to pay Marley $6,500.

The board voted 3-1 to retroactively approve Dias’ consultant agreement at Wednesday’s meeting. Trustee Felicia Watson voted against the agreement’s ratification and trustee Gregory Charter was absent. When asked why she voted against the contract, Watson said:

“$6,500 plus incidentals … is exorbitant.” Watson said she’s conscientious of her fiscal responsibility to the district. The decision sparked concern from some parents and taxpayers in the financially-strapped school district. “I know there were a number of concerns raised regarding this,” trustee Raymond Duncan said. “But … we still have a line item (in the annual budget) for the superintendent’s initiatives. If the superintendent chooses to spend money to bring a speaker in (within that line item budget), I’m going to (approve it) unless it’s something I find totally unnecessary. We hire the superintendent to runthe district.”

On Tuesday, Dias gave an hour long speech to staff before leading an hour and half-long workshop for 50 students. It’s unclear what the district plans on reimbursing her for travel expenses. Dias, who has led a nationwide literacy initiative, is “inspiring young people,” Williams said. “About 90 percent of our students are below reading level. We have to motivate our scholars to read.”

At Wednesday’s meeting, Superintendent Nicole Williams said that Dias’ “resume is tremendous … her work is world-renowned,” and “we should not discriminate because she’s 11 years old.”

She was also paid some expenses after she was keynote speaker for few hours of services.

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