A hundred years of nightmares were born at Florida’s Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, the state’s oldest reform school, but the woman who runs it now insists it is a different place, says the St. Petersburg Times. “When I came here, I knew that there were problems,” said Mary Zahasky, 54, superintendent since 2007. “And you feel like, Oh my gosh! Do I really want to do this? It certainly needed some changing.” The Times spoke yesterday to Zahasky and other Department of Juvenile Justice officials about the school’s record of abuse and neglect.
They did not dispute recent problems detailed by the Times on Sunday. However, they still refuse to allow reporters to tour the campus, look in classrooms or talk to boys or staff. Investigators from the Department of Children and Families have opened 155 investigations at Dozier and verified seven cases of improper supervision, four of physical abuse, one of sexual abuse, and one of medical mistreatment. Thirty-three cases had “some indicator” of abuse, mistreatment or neglect.
But the officials said Tuesday that they’ve had no “verified” abuse this year, and they attribute that to a cultural change.