The Florida Cabinet and Gov. Rick Scott voted unanimously to permit University of Florida researchers to exhume any remains they find at the Arthur G. Dozier School for Boys, which closed in 2011 after allegations of widespread abuse, The Florida Times-Union reported.
Researchers discovered 19 additional graves in 2012 that were missed when the 1,400-acre site was investigated in 2009.
"We're not exactly sure what happened there, but we know it was not good," Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said. "It's something we Floridians can't ignore."
Bondi's office has been working with the Bureau of Archaeological Research to secure permits to remove any remains.
Marshall Drawdy, 69, lived at the school in the 1950s when it was known as the Florida School for Boys.
He told the Times-Union removing remains might help families with "closure" but he isn't sure any will be recovered.
"I saw them burned in barrels with diesel fuel, and what not," Drawdy said, adding he does not expect the state to ever reach concrete conclusions about what happened at the school.