Atwater looks for next steps at Dozier school

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University of South Florida researchers exhumed remains from unmarked graves at the Dozier School for Boys.

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. - The Florida Cabinet is expected next week to discuss the state's next steps after researchers finish onsite work at the shuttered Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, a former reform school where children are alleged to have been abused and died.

State Chief Financial Officer Jeff Atwater wrote a letter Sept. 4 to Secretary of State Ken Detzner that said University of South Florida researchers, who have been excavating the site and seeking identification of remains, will submit a final report to the governor and Cabinet in the coming months.

Atwater urged that one entity be put in charge of issues that will follow the completion of the researchers' onsite work.

"Now, the next phases involving the preservation of artifacts unearthed, the storage and reinterment of the remains of those unidentified, decisions regarding appropriate memorials, and state funding appropriations will need to be addressed,'' Atwater wrote. "The issues involving the preservation of historical resources and records, archives, and state monuments seem best to be handled by the Department of State or an appropriate oversight body. Having one entity to oversee these next phases and ensuring the inclusion of stakeholders and families will be paramount as we move towards eventual closure."

In the letter, Atwater asked for the issue to go before the governor and Cabinet, and it has been placed on the agenda of a meeting next Tuesday. Dozier, in Northwest Florida's Jackson County, served as a state reform school for decades. Atwater's letter said the USF researchers would submit a final report in December, though the Cabinet agenda indicates the report will be submitted in January. 

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