FARMINGTON — With less than a week before school board elections, Central Consolidated School District politics continue to heat up.

After more than half of the candidates went to court to make election-related complaints earlier this month, more issues have been brought to light by current board member Hoskie Benally.

Benally wrote a letter of concern to Superintendent Don Levinski regarding the involvement of a district employee in candidates' campaigns.

Benally accuses Scott Nicolay, the district's enrichment and community relations coordinator, of misconduct that could affect, and possibly alter, the races for board seats.

The seats up for grabs are Districts 1 and 4 in the Kirtland area. The election will be held Feb. 5.

The allegations range from misuse of a work phone for campaigning to bribery of one of the candidates.

Nicolay said the claims were untrue and discounted Benally's Jan. 21 letter.

Benally could not be reached by phone Wednesday.

"Nicolay is misrepresenting himself as the spokesperson with specific authority for (the school district) and proves that he has apparent major influence over the decision making of the superintendent," Benally said in his letter.

He said that Nicolay had approached one of the District 4 candidates, Irene Blue Eyes Claw, and told her that she could be hired again within the district if she withdrew from the race. He also said that Nicolay was campaigning for current board member Christina Aspaas. Former District 4 candidate Randy Jensen withdrew his candidacy earlier this month.

"I spoke to Irene at a San Juan Chapter meeting. She approached me, asked how I was doing," Nicolay said, adding that he never offered a position and that he would not have the ability to do so. "I told her she should come back to work here. That's all."

Benally also said that Nicolay had announced that he had been heavily involved in the campaign for Fred Hatathlie, whose candidacy was not confirmed until earlier this month. Hatathlie is the only candidate running against incumbent Randy Manning, who has not been shy about his disagreement with many of the current administration's decisions.

Nicolay said the claims are "libelous," noting that each time he has helped either Hatathlie's or Aspas's campaign, he has taken personal leave or has been off the clock at work, in which case there would be no issue with his campaigning, Nicolay said.

Benally also said that Nicolay was using his work phone during work hours for campaign related discussions, an allegation that Nicolay also denies.

"It's kind of a highly charged political environment," said district spokesman James Preminger, who believes that the local National Education Association is behind many of Benally's allegations.

Union representatives could not be reached for comment Wednesday.

"The union has interest in changing the school board, and benefit(ting) from it," said Preminger, who found through file information that the document sent out by Benally, who is blind, originated at the offices of the Oregon Education Association. The former local teacher's union director, Nancy Sheehan, now works at the Oregon Education Association.

"Something's amiss," Preminger said.

While the district takes every concern seriously, Preminger said, the administration is neither worried about Benally's allegations nor are they investigating them.

"Scott Nicolay has been very careful to do his campaign work on his own time," Preminger said. "People can do whatever they wish (on their own time.)"

"Are we concerned about it? No," he said.