Columbia swim coach says Nazi comments led to her firing

11 months 2 weeks 2 days ago February 02, 2016 Feb 2, 2016 Tuesday, February 02 2016 Tuesday, February 02, 2016 2:20:00 PM CST in News
By: Matt Johnson, KOMU 8 Content Manager

COLUMBIA - Ousted Columbia Public Schools swim coach Laura Wacker told KOMU 8 News Tuesday she felt she was unfairly fired over comments she admitted she made about Nazis while talking to her girls swim team Friday. Columbia Public Schools confirmed the district fired Wacker Friday, but would not say why.

Wacker said the district human resources office told her the firing came after some girls claimed they were called Nazis in practice. Wacker denied she called girls Nazis, but did say she used an analogy about Jews in Nazi concentration camps in reference to some of the girls on the team being punished twice by the Missouri State High School Activities Assocation for violating "dead week" rules and by some girls on the team berating the girls who violated the rule.

Wacker said she told the girls it was "Like the Jews being tortured after already being put in concentration camps for not following bad rules." 

MSHSAA rules prevent girls from practicing with any team the week prior to their high school team's season starting. The girls were punished for that violation by sitting out six meets during the season. Thursday, Wacker said she was informed that in addition to that punishment, the girls would have to sit out the week beginning Monday, Feb. 1 as well since MSHAA said they did not sit out as required prior to the season.

Wacker said CPS investigated the comments by interviewing five girls, but never talked to her. CPS does not comment on personnel matters.

Wacker has been coaching the boys and girls swim teams for Hickman, Rock Bridge and Battle High Schools since the 2013-14 season and coached the girls as an assistant for an additional year in 2012-13 prior to taking on both boys and girls teams. Prior to being employed with CPS, Wacker coached Stephens College swimming for 16 years and has also coached for the Columbia Swim Club.

Wacker said she was receiving advisement about trying to get her job back.

[Editor's note: This story has been edited to add additional context about the analogy Wacker used.]

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