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El Paso Native Who Pioneered Special Education In LA Has Died

Alfonso B. Perez, a veteran administrator who helped shape special education programs in the Los Angeles Unified School District and as principal guided his alma mater, Roosevelt High, during a tense period of Chicano protest, died July 2 at Scripps Memorial Hospital in La Jolla, the Los Angeles Times reported Monday. He was 91.

The cause was a heart attack, said his grandson, Paul Aguirre.

Perez was born in El Paso on Aug. 20, 1918. One of six children of Mexican immigrants, he moved with his family to East L.A. when he was 7. He excelled in track at Roosevelt High and went on to L.A. City College, where he studied for two years before being drafted in 1941.

Perez joined the district as a teacher for disabled students in 1947, when few resources were available in public schools for students with physical and mental impairments. In 1956 he rose to become principal of Widney High School in central Los Angeles and turned it into a model campus where disabled students were encouraged to develop their academic skills, become more independent and participate in athletic programs.

Read the full obituary here.

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