Lawmakers approve Dozier memorials


The Senate on Friday unanimously approved a bill that would create two memorials for victims of the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, a now-closed reform school where hundreds of former students reported physical and sexual abuse.

The bill now goes to Gov. Rick Scott.

The memorials would be placed at the Capitol complex in Tallahassee and in Jackson County, the site of the reform school.

The legislation (HB 7115) also provides for the reburial of unidentified remains from Dozier at a cemetery in Tallahassee.

Victims of a 1914 dormitory fire at the reform school would be reburied at the Boot Hill cemetery on the Dozier property.

The remains were uncovered by University of South Florida forensic anthropologists who found 55 graves at the school, which operated from 1900 to 2011.

The legislation also would direct the state Department of Environmental Protection to investigate the 1,400-acre Dozier site for additional unmarked graves.

And the bill would name a Florida Department of Law Enforcement forensic training center in Pasco County after Thomas Varnadoe, who died after being sent to Dozier in 1934.

His remains were identified and returned to his family during the investigation.

The bill would provide $1.2 million to cover the costs of the memorials and the reburials.

The Senate and House also passed resolutions during the legislative session formally apologizing for the treatment of the juveniles sent to Dozier and a related facility in Okeechobee.