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Parent: Phil Campbell High School rejects senior yearbook ads due to images depicting rifles, Confederate flag

PHIL CAMPBELL, Ala. - Two families in northwest Alabama recently learned their yearbook pages purchased for their high school seniors won't be allowed. The school says it's because of what some of the photos show, but the parents of the students say there's nothing wrong with the collages.

Cathy Morgan spoke with WHNT News 19 today about the situation. She designed a page and purchased it for her son, Cody, who will graduate in a few months, paying $165.

"I don't see anything offensive or wrong with it," said Morgan.

The collage includes several pictures and a personal message from her. Morgan says she wanted the collage to be a direct reflection of who her son is, so she used posed pictures of him shooting both a hunting rifle and bow. She also prepared a similar collage for one of her son's friends.

This report airs today on WHNT News 19 at 5:00 p.m.

"They don't play baseball, football, that's their sport. [Hunting] is what they love to do."

Cody Morgan's mother, Cathy Morgan, designed this full-page yearbook ad for her son. The school rejected it, saying photos showing Cody aiming a gun at the camera would not be allowed. The principal also called the image of the Confederate flag over the U.S. flag an act of flag desecration. (Image courtesy Cathy Morgan)

Cody Morgan's mother, Cathy Morgan, designed and purchased this full-page yearbook ad for her son at Phil Campbell High School. The school rejected it, saying photos showing Cody aiming a gun at the camera would not be allowed. The principal also called the image of the Confederate flag over the U.S. flag an act of flag desecration.
(Image courtesy Cathy Morgan)

School administrators flagged Cody's collage earlier this week, and that of the other student.  Principal Gary Odom said the photos must be reworked. He said students are not allowed to have guns on campus, nor are they allowed to wear clothes that depict guns. He said a picture of a student holding a gun would be inappropriate for the yearbook.

In addition, Odom said the Confederate flag is superimposed over the U.S. flag in Morgan's yearbook ad. Principal Odom called that desecration of the U.S. flag.

Cathy Morgan designed this yearbook ad for her son, and a similar one for his friend that also shows images of him aiming a rifle at the camera. That student's ad was also rejected.

Morgan said she has been designing these yearbook ads for high school seniors for a few years, and has never seen any guidelines from the school about what they can and cannot contain. She recalled creating one for a female student a few years ago who was holding a hunting rifle. However, Morgan couldn't recall if the girl was aiming at the camera.

Morgan said she will redesign the ads to remove the pictures the school has rejected.  The school gave her a deadline of Wednesday, March 1.

"They are already redone, but I don't necessarily want to use those, I don't. I want to use the ones that reflect what they love to do," said Morgan.

Morgan said she hopes the school will provide a list of "do's and don't's" for senior ads in the future to cut down on confusion.