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Proposals Would Provide Aid to Dozier Families

Pool/Edmund D. Fountain
Tampa Bay Times
John Due of Atlanta, leaves the Boot Hill cemetery at the closed Dozier School for Boys with his daughter Tananarive Due in August 2013. Due's wife's uncle died at the school in 1937.

Two Democratic lawmakers filed bills Tuesday that would direct the Florida Department of State to preserve historical resources from the shuttered Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys and to provide money to help families reinter bodies of children found at the Jackson County site.

The bills (SB 708 and HB 533), filed by Senate Minority Leader Arthenia Joyner, D-Tampa, and Rep. Ed Narain, D-Tampa, come after extensive excavation work by University of South Florida researchers at the former reform school.

The work stemmed from allegations that children were abused and died at the school, which operated for decades.

The bills differ somewhat, but both would put the Department of State in charge of preserving such things as records and artifacts from the site and would direct the department to continue research about what took place at the school.

Joyner's bill would allow reimbursements of up to $7,500 per family to help cover costs such as reinterring bodies exhumed from the site.

Narain's bill would allow payments of $5,000.

Both call for setting aside $1.5 million in the 2016-2017 state budget to carry out the proposed bills.

Gov. Rick Scott and the state Cabinet began discussions in late September about the future of the school site but did not make any decisions.

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