Change is coming to Florida’s oldest reform school, a place with such a long and ugly history some say it can never be fixed. The St. Petersburg Times says the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys will shed the name of its former superintendent. Dozier has been named by several men as one of the former staffers who wielded a leather strap and beat boys bloody in the 1950s and ’60s.
The name change is just one of the fixes being proposed at a place some insist should be closed altogether. The school was the subject of a Times investigation, “For their own good,” which detailed a century of abuse and neglect and showed that in 2009 the school still broke bones and bloodied noses of boys in its care. The school failed an annual state evaluation twice in recent years and has scrambled to improve with a new superintendent and revamped procedures. Faced with budget cuts, the Department of Juvenile Justice plans to consolidate the school with the adjacent juvenile correction center, creating a smaller facility that can better serve boys with special medical and behavioral needs. The capacity of the school will be cut to 151 beds from 199. All 32 juvenile sex offenders will be relocated to other facilities starting next week.