The New Mexico Attorney General's Office currently is reviewing a complaint that Superintendent Don Levinski may have given several school board members under-the-table payments, according to documents obtained by The Daily Times under an open records request.
District officials deny any wrongdoing.
Current school board member Randy Manning filed the complaint, which the office's Criminal Investigation Division received March 4. The attorney general can start an inquiry to determine whether there is "a probability" of a successful prosecution. If such a probability exists, the inquiry could lead to a full investigation, according to Phil Sisneros, spokesman for the state attorney general's office.
In the complaint, Manning said that a former district administrator had approached him in late February.
The former administrator, who is not named in the complaint, said that Levinski had bribed current board President Matthew Tso, current board Secretary Christina Aspaas, and former board member Bernice Benally. He also implicated board Vice President Lupita White.
"It makes things make more sense," Manning said this week of events that led to Levinski's contract renewal.
District officials responded in a Friday email, stating: "Manning's latest complaint letter to the Attorney General is filled with wild accusations, hearsay, and rumors on personnel hiring, alleged campaign contributions, and alleged loans and payoffs, that reads straight out of a Hollywood movie. The district denies any wrong doing."
According to the complaint, Levinksi allegedly paid off Tso's remaining payments to Dartmouth College so that Tso could receive his diploma from the Ivy League school in Hanover, N.H.
In 2011, a Dartmouth spokesman told The Daily Times that Tso had attended Dartmouth, but had not graduated. Several months later, a Dartmouth spokeswoman told the paper that Tso had directed the college to seal his student records.
Those records still are sealed, a Dartmouth spokesman said Friday, as is any financial information regarding Tso.
"In short, Randy Manning is full of bologna/baloney and Manning even gives bologna/baloney a bad name," Tso wrote in an email Friday.
Levinski also allegedly paid off Benally's house payments and kept money in his office "in case Ms. Benally came in, because she would always be needing money," the complaint said.
Benally passed away in September 2011 after she was diagnosed with leukemia.
Additionally, Levinski may have paid for the campaign signs of board member Aspaas. Her uncle also allegedly was rehired by the district in the maintenance department, even though he was not a candidate recommended during the hiring process.
And when the board considered whether to renew Levinski's contract in February, Levinski allegedly visited White to persuade her to vote to renew his contract.
White was thought by many district employees to have been the deciding vote, the complaint said.
Levinski allegedly visited White at her home between the various meetings that were held to discuss Levinski's contract renewal. Levinski was accompanied by Scott Nicolay, district gifted program coordinator, according to the complaint.
After several meetings, which totaled more than 10 hours of deliberation, the board voted 3 to 2 to give Levinski a new three-year contract.
White voted to renew Levinski's contract, along with Tso and Aspaas.
"She was subdued and voted to give a three-year contract," Manning wrote in the complaint.
Board members Manning and Hoskie Benally voted against Levinski's contract.
In the district's statement Friday, its officials denied all allegations, calling the inquiry a politically charged stunt.
"He has gone out of his way in the past two years to attempt to bring down the current administration. We see his latest letter as an attempt to throw something at the wall, and to hope something sticks. He's been unsuccessful at this in the past," the statement said.
Manning filed a complaint regarding the same administration with the state attorney general's office in 2011. The complaint was dismissed, according to the office's response.
Among other complaints, Manning alleged that the board violated the Open Meetings Act, which the attorney general's office did not find enough evidence to pursue. The attorney general's office also declined to pursue other alleged violations, which included making district decisions outside of formal meetings.
If the office decides to fully investigate the current allegations, the case could be handed over to local law enforcement, depending on what the office finds.
Those named in the complaint adamantly denied the allegations and said there was no merit to them.
"Oh my gosh. There's no truth to it," Tso said, calling the allegations the "same old nonsense."