University Beat
4:31 pm
Mon July 22, 2013

USF Replies to State: You Do Have Authority on Dozier School Gravesites

The University of South Florida has sent a five-page, strongly-worded letter to Secretary of State Ken Detzner, asking him to reconsider his decision not to allow the school to exhume bodies at a former state reform school, the Dozier School for Boys.

Detzner denied the request because human bodies are not objects to be dug up for research.
 
The university's general counsel pointed out in a letter sent Monday that USF does not want to dig up the bodies for research, they just want to return the remains to their families.

Anthropologists Dr. Christian Wells (left) and Dr. Erin Kimmerle (right) explain the five-page letter response to State Secretary Ken Detzner.
Anthropologists Dr. Christian Wells (left) and Dr. Erin Kimmerle (right) explain the five-page letter response to State Secretary Ken Detzner.
Credit Yoselis Ramos

Anthropologist Erin Kimmerle says the families are the reason they're still pushing for action.

"The fact that there are families here - direct brothers and sisters and nephews asking for this, makes it even more important," she said.

Last week, Detzner told USF his department doesn't have the authority to grant the exhumation request.

The USF General Counsel believes Detzner does have the authority. If Detzner doesn't reconsider, USF will file an appeal.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson today agreed with USF's stance.

“The state has ample authority here,” Nelson said during a stop at Tampa International Airport.  “Their refusal to renew the permits is just a dodge.  The response by USF makes hash out of the state’s position.”