Six-term incumbent Donna Bysfield withdraws from race for SM East area school board seat

Six-term incumbent Donna Bysfield has dropped out of the race for the Shawnee Mission Board of Education.
Six-term incumbent Donna Bysfield has dropped out of the race for the Shawnee Mission Board of Education.

Donna Bysfield, the six-term incumbent of the SM East representative seat on the Shawnee Mission Board of Education, on Thursday withdrew her name from the race for another term.

First elected in 1993, Bysfield had gone unopposed in reelection bids in 1997, 2001, 2005, 2009, and 2013, but had drawn two credible challengers for the seat. Mary Sinclair, the current Shawnee Mission Area Council PTA co-chair who holds a PhD in special education, and James Lockard, a 43-year veteran science teacher who spent his career at Indian Hills and SM East, both filed for the race in recent weeks.

We reached out to Bysfield to give her the opportunity to provide comment on her decision, but have not received a response.

Bysfield had been on the fence about seeking a seventh term on the board early in the year, but became the first candidate to file in the race in March.

It’s the latest in a recent series of shakeups in the candidate rolls for the school board, which has drawn increased attention in the wake of Superintendent Jim Hinson’s abrupt retirement announcement in April. Since then, at-large candidate Brian Koon has dropped out and thrown his support behind public education funding advocate Heather Ousley; and at-large candidate Chris White, a former capital projects supervisor for the district, has shifted to the SM West race, where he will face incumbent Craig Denny.

At present, the declared candidates for the seats on the November ballot are:

SM East area seat (Position 2):

  • James Lockard
  • Mary Sinclair

SM West area seat (Position 4):

  • Craig Denny (incumbent)
  • Chris White

At-large seat (Position 6):

  • Cindy Neighbor (incumbent)
  • Heather Ousley

By Kansas statute, school board races do not have primaries unless there are four or more candidates. The deadline to file in the election is noon on June 1.