The May primary is less than three weeks away and a local school board candidate is sending a message to Blair County Republican Chairperson Lois Kaneshiki.

John Donley, who is running for a spot on the Altoona Area School Board, declined an invitation from the Blair County GOP to participate in a political forum on May 2.

Kaneshiki created controversy when she referred to kindergarten teachers as babysitters.  Kaneshiki is a also a school board member in the Hollidaysburg Area School District. She said her comments were taken out of contents, but some people have not forgotten.

Donley said political parties should not be organizing school board debates and he accused Kaneshiki of trying to meddle in the Altoona Area School District.

Here is a portion of the statement Donley released Thursday evening:

“School Board positions are designed by the legislature to be as nonpolitical as possible. It is the only non-judicial position that candidates are permitted to cross-file between parties. Politics should be playing only the most minimal role in the debate over how to educate our most precious resource, our children. For years and years, the political parties have stayed out of organizing debates for school board candidates. 

Unfortunately, that has changed with the rise to power of the new Blair County Republican Chairwoman, Lois Kaneshiki. While past Chairpersons of both parties have focused their attention on more political races, Ms. Kaneshiki has chosen to meddle in not only the Hollidaysburg school board race, but now the Altoona School Board race as well. Her efforts to influence the Hollidaysburg School Board Race, where she currently is a member of that board, have been well documented. She created controversy recently by attempting to circulate a questionnaire to candidates for Hollidaysburg School Board that contained many questions that reflected her personal beliefs and did not focus on true education issues. 

Today I am not only expressing my refusal to participate in this sham forum, but I am challenging all candidates for the Altoona Area School Board to speak out with their opinions. The primary election is on Tuesday, May 16, 2017, less than three weeks away. There are several important local races to be decided in addition to school board races so voting must be a high priority on primary day for ALL voters. This community should not allow a small group of organized voters decide how this community and our local schools are managed. Two years ago voter turnout was low for both the spring primary and fall general elections. This allowed Lois Kaneshiki to win a seat on the Hollidaysburg School Board. We all know how that has turned out so far. Let’s make sure we don’t allow what happened in Hollidaysburg to happen in Altoona. Please get out and vote on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 and vote for school board candidates that put our children and our local schools ahead of politics. Our children’s futures depend on it.”