For his family's safety, Funk gives up job as Felt Superintendent
by C.F. David
Jeff Funk, Felt Oklahoma's Superintendent and a 1983 graduate of the school, is leaving his post after one brief, but sometimes scary year.
Funk and his family have for the past three months been the targets of what Cimarron County Sheriff David Dunn, calls “...acts of terrorism.”
In March, on a decision of the local school board, the contract of popular basketball coach Andy McClung was not renewed; the non-renewal was reported in The Boise City News.
Since that time, the Funk family's two dogs have been found dead, victims of poison.
On two other occasions, rabbits, with their throats slashed, have been found on the floor of the Funk's garage.
The second rabbit appeared according to both Funk and Dunn, the night after Funk had withdrawn his initial resignation.
A window was also found smashed out of the Funk's Windstar van. Dunn, however, theorizes that the window damages might have been the result of a hailstorm. It's a conclusion Funk and his wife Lorrie have dismissed.
When asked if he had a history of any problems with students or former students, Funk replied, “I haven't a problem with any student. The kids in Felt are great.”
Asked if he thought the incident(s) had been perpetrated or perhaps incited by McClung, Funk replied emphatically, “Absolutly not. He had nothing to do with it. Coach McClung and I had a good relationship; and we had a good relationship with his wife as well.
It was stressful for a while of course; it's always stressful when news departments come around.”
The Felt community, in Western Cimarron County, is a quiet, small village. There are few fences around the homes, children roam free on the dirt and paved streets; but not the Funk children...not now.
“It [finding the dead animals] scared our kids,” Funk admits.
In addition Funk says that the husband of one of his employees heard a rumor in Boise City that the Funk children would be targets next.
“My wife is concerned; she won't let the kids play alone out in front of the house.”
Asked if he considered this to be terrorism, Funk said, “I think it's terrorism.
Sheriff Dunn agrees, “ We are looking into that [The possible threat against the children.] This is terrorism. I am looking at a couple of people; but we have nothing concrete...yet.
If I catch them, they will be charged with a terrorist act, they will do some pen time. It carries a sentence of ten to life. These things, [prison sentences] have jumped up since 9/11,” Dunn explained.
It isn't the first time children were made potential targets. Former Felt Superintendent Tammy Swinburne, who held the position last year, said her children were threatened while she was superintendent.
“I got an anonymous letter, Swinburne explained. “It talked about how my kids were riding their bikes on the street and that they shouldn't be. It said something to the effect that I was the school superintendent, and if I wasn't smart enough to keep my kids off the street, maybe I wasn't smart enough to run the school. Swinburne took a deep breath,“...and maybe they'd just have to run over them.”
The board knew about this...I reported this to the board and they made the decision not to pursue it,” Swinburne added.
Asked if he thought the incidents might be the work of an adult or teen, Dunn replied, “A little of both.”
Funk agrees, but adds that he doesn't think the perpetrators are long-term Felt residents.
At the entrance of the school door is a motto, “Felt Public School, a School of Character”
In proof of the point, nearby are trophy cases, filled with Regional and Area Scholastic awards won by the student body, past and present; included is at least one State Championship trophy for computer skills.
Near Funk's 1983 graduation picture is the class motto, “Coming together is a beginning. Staying together is progress. Working together is success.”
Asked how he, the class Vice-President in 1983, feels now as he packs to leave the school and community he loves, Funk said with a shake of his head, “ Saddened, there has been a Funk living in this community, since 1930.
I'm saddened for this community. People have told me they are embarrassed. They don't want the community to get this kind of name; they are ashamed.”
“We have had tremendous support from our Baptist church and outside the church as well,” Funk added.
“I planned on our kids graduating from here,” Funk's wife Lorrie added.
“But when they killed the second rabbit, and we heard about the threats against the kids, that was enough,” she said.
“I think people understand why we are leaving now.”
Boise City News