50 rally in Winchester in support of fired football coach

jwarren@herald-leader.comMay 29, 2012 

WINCHESTER — About 50 people held a rally Tuesday night, leveling various complaints against Clark County Public Schools Superintendent Elaine Farris.

The hastily organized gathering grew out of continuing unhappiness among some people over the dismissal of Paul Columbia as head football coach at George Rogers Clark High School in December. Columbia says he was fired about three months after Farris sent him text messages questioning the amount of playing time he was giving her grandson.

Columbia, 54, who continues to be an assistant principal at George Rogers Clark, contends he wasn't treated fairly.

Speaking at the rally, Columbia's wife, Patti Columbia, called for Farris to resign or be fired.

"I want to clearly state I didn't come out here to get her to behave; I want her to be fired, I want her to resign," Patti Columbia said. "I think she needs to go."

Reached by phone Tuesday night, Farris said that complaints Patti Columbia has made against her are untrue and that she was a victim of a "personal vendetta" by the former coach's wife.

The outdoor gathering at the high school walking track included parents, some former teachers and representatives from the Kentucky Education Association.

Paul Columbia said he was pleased by the turnout but saw little chance of being reinstated now. Asked if he feared the rally might cause him to lose his job as assistant principal, he said there was "nothing illegal" about the gathering.

"After 30 years in coaching, to be called in and told you're being terminated ... it isn't the right way to treat somebody," he said.

Jim Warren: (859) 231-3255.

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