Florida Senate - 2016 SB 708 By Senator Joyner 19-00638B-16 2016708__ 1 A bill to be entitled 2 An act relating to the Arthur G. Dozier School for 3 Boys; directing the Department of State to preserve 4 historical resources, records, archives, and 5 artifacts, to create and maintain a memorial to 6 victims, and to continue the department’s research and 7 development of evidence; authorizing the department to 8 reimburse the next of kin of children whose bodies are 9 buried and exhumed at the Dozier School for the costs 10 associated with funeral services and reinterment; 11 requiring the department to identify and locate such 12 next of kin within a specified timeframe; requiring 13 that the costs for which the next of kin is reimbursed 14 be documented; requiring that payment be made within a 15 specified timeframe; authorizing the department to 16 make direct payment to the provider for such services; 17 authorizing reimbursement if an exhumation occurs 18 after a specified date, subject to the availability of 19 funding; authorizing the department to adopt rules; 20 providing an appropriation; providing an effective 21 date. 22 23 WHEREAS, the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, or the 24 Dozier School, operated from 1900 until it was closed in 2011 25 after allegations of abuse were confirmed in separate 26 investigations by the Department of Law Enforcement in 2010 and 27 the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of 28 Justice in 2011, and 29 WHEREAS, official records indicated that 31 graves had been 30 dug at the facility between 1914 and 1952, and 31 WHEREAS, a forensic investigation by the University of 32 South Florida found that there are no records of where children 33 who died at the Dozier School are buried and that a second 34 cemetery is likely to exist, and 35 WHEREAS, exhumations of bodies began in August 2013, and 36 the excavations yielded remains of 55 bodies, 24 more bodies 37 than reported in official records, and 38 WHEREAS, one of the bodies exhumed during the forensic 39 investigation was of a child reported missing since 1940, and 40 WHEREAS, representatives of children formerly held at the 41 Dozier School have estimated that there could be 100 more bodies 42 buried on the grounds of the school, and 43 WHEREAS, many families of children whose bodies have been 44 exhumed lack the resources to properly reinter those children at 45 a suitable location, and 46 WHEREAS, the State of Florida recognizes an obligation to 47 help the families of children formerly buried at the Dozier 48 School reinter the bodies of those children, NOW, THEREFORE, 49 50 Be It Enacted by the Legislature of the State of Florida: 51 52 Section 1. (1) The Department of State is directed to 53 preserve historical resources, records, archives, and artifacts; 54 to create and maintain a memorial for victims; and to continue 55 its research and development of evidence at the Arthur G. Dozier 56 School for Boys. 57 (2) The department is authorized to reimburse up to $7,500 58 for funeral, reinterment, and grave marker expenses to the next 59 of kin of each child buried and exhumed at the Dozier School. 60 The department shall identify and locate eligible families of 61 exhumed children within 1 year after the effective date of this 62 act and shall pay up to the maximum allowed to the next of kin 63 no later than 6 months after locating the next of kin. 64 (a) The child’s next of kin must submit receipts or 65 documentation of the expenses to the department in order to 66 receive reimbursement, which must be processed and remitted 67 within 14 days of the department’s receipt of the request for 68 reimbursement and required documentation. 69 (b) If a family cannot pay the funeral, reinterment, or 70 grave marker expenses, the department may, upon receipt of an 71 invoice, pay such expenses directly to the funeral home or other 72 appropriate entity. 73 (3) Subject to the appropriation of funds by the 74 Legislature, if the remains of a child are found and exhumed at 75 the Dozier School after June 30, 2017, the next of kin must be 76 identified within a reasonable time and reimbursed up to $7,500 77 for funeral, reinterment, and grave marker expenses within 1 78 year after the exhumation of the child. Reimbursement must be 79 made subject to the requirements specified in paragraphs (2)(a) 80 and (b). 81 (4) The department may adopt rules necessary to administer 82 this section. 83 Section 2. For the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the sum of $1.5 84 million in nonrecurring funds is appropriated from the General 85 Revenue Fund to the Department of State for the purpose of 86 implementing this act. 87 Section 3. This act shall take effect July 1, 2016.