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TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) — A state agency is turning down a request from researchers at the University of South Florida who want to exhume human remains at a now-defunct Florida Panhandle reform school.

Secretary of State Ken Detzner told researchers Monday that the state does not have legal authority to grant the request, even though the land in Marianna is state-owned. Detzner reports to Gov. Rick Scott.

U.S. Sen. Bill Nelson criticized the decision and called it a "classic run-around."

Earlier this year, a circuit judge rejected a request from Attorney General Pam Bondi to exhume bodies from "Boot Hill Cemetery" and surrounding areas. It is believed there may be unmarked graves and unaccounted bodies of boys who died.

The school is formally known as the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys.

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