Buchanan Parsons Trust Information

Fran Knell, fknell@sandi.net
Joyce Brody, jbrody@sandi.net

BACKGROUND: On August 8, 2006, Agenda Section 5, the Office of the Deputy Superintendent and the Special Education Programs Division authorized the acceptance of a gift in the amount of $1,348,915.89. This gift was given for the "exclusive benefit of the San Diego Unified School District's special education program, to aid in the scholarship and assistance in furthering the vocational and higher educational needs of deaf students." Additionally, on October 17, 2006, Deputy General Counsel, Jose Gonzales, wrote a letter to then Program Manager of the Low Incidence/Home Hospital program, which included the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Department. He advised that the "trust funds be used to supplement, not supplant, District funding of vocational and higher education programs for deaf and hard of hearing students. District allocations for these programs should not be reduced and then replaced by trust funds. The trust funds are intended to enhance existing District programs in these areas."

Quoted from the San Diego Union Tribune September 28, 2006 article, "Donation to Schools to Assist Deaf" by Helen Gao:

"San Diego Unified was the last in line to inherit the trust after Algene Buchanan's sister-in-law, Lynda Mary Parsons, died in February.

Roxie Jackson, Executive Director of Special Education, said she's been searching for months for clues about the family, but turned up nothing.

Ruth Evans, who cared for Algene Buchanan and Lynda Parsons toward the end of their lives, said Parsons was deaf..., and Buchanan was once a teacher.

After the Buchanans died, the trust took care of Parsons and her husband. Upon Parsons' passing, remaining funds were to be turned over to the district.

Union Bank officials on Tuesday presented the district with a check for about $858,000. The rest will be invested with the bank. The investment could generate $25,000 to $50,000 each year for the district, based on estimates.

According to Evans, Algene Buchanan and Parsons were the sole survivors in their family and lived within less than a mile of each other in the College Area. Buchanan hired Evans to take care of her and her sister-in-law.

"I know she didn't spend nothing. She kept everything. She saved everything," Evans said.

Ernest Buchanan, whose occupation was listed as tool and die maker on his death certificate, died in 1992 at age 82. His wife passed away in 1999 at 84. Their trust was listed as the owner of two homes, which were sold by Union Bank in 2000. The Buchanans lived in one, Parsons the other, Evans said.

Parsons died a widow in February at 95 at Country Hills Health Care, an El Cajon nursing home.

The Buchanans' gift is the largest financial donation to the deaf and hard-of-hearing program.

"It's just one of those things that came into our lives, and we gladly accept it," Jackson said of the gift."

In the summer of 2007, Roxie Jackson, Director of Special Education, appointed Fran Knell, Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, working primarily with Deaf and Hard of Hearing students, and Joyce Brody, Deaf and Hard of Hearing (D/HH) Department Chair at Madison High School to become co-chairs of the Buchanan Parsons Trust Committee. A meeting was held with Jose Gonzales, Geraldine Brown, Low Incidence Program Manager, Roxie Jackson, Fran Knell and Joyce Brody on October 2, 2007. At that meeting, the parameters of the trust, and the make up of a committee were discussed as well as the need for committee by laws. A committee made up of; the Special Education Director, Low Incidence Program manager, D/HH staff members, students, parents and community members and a set of by laws was created by the committee co-chairs. The co-chairs also set a tentative limit of $75,000 of spending per year, in order to continue access to these funds for at least 30 years. These were both then approved by Jose Gonzales.

The first Buchanan Parsons Trust Committee meeting was held on December 17, 2007. The Buchanan Parsons Trust committee has since met quarterly. At each meeting, following the by laws, there have been proposals made for expenditures of the trust money. Proposals are discussed by the committee and voted on in terms of following the intent of the trust. Proposals have ranged from transportation to Deaf Academic Bowl tournaments in Colorado Springs, to the writing and posting on the internet of transition curriculum specifically for D/HH students, to scholarships for D/HH students for work training and college, to funding of summer jobs with coaching and interpreters for training for D/HH students.