FOXBORO — It was a red, white and blue brouhaha that blew up the Internet over the past couple of days, but now looks to be settled with a new star-spangled snapshot.
A mother’s Facebook post slamming Foxboro High School after school representatives rejected a yearbook ad featuring her daughter standing in front of an American flag quickly went viral, but the school claimed the picture was “inappropriate” because the girl appears to be standing on the flag.
Now, Lisa Truax says a photographer with a husband in the service, who had been one of the people who’d reached out to her after seeing her post, has offered to take new photos of her daughter Morgan — with different patriotic props, at no charge.
The dispute erupted Thursday after a photo showing Morgan Truax standing in front of an American flag backdrop was shared on Facebook by her mother. Lisa Truax said the photo was to be used in a school yearbook ad by the Red Wing Diner in Walpole congratulating Morgan, who works there along with her sister. Lisa Truax is the diner’s general manager and Morgan is on the yearbook committee.
In her post Thursday, Lisa Truax said the photo was rejected because the high school found it “offensive.”
“The Red Wing Diner which employs Morgan, purchased a page in Morgan’s yearbook to congratulate her on her hard work. Does anyone find this photo offensive? Apparently Foxboro High School finds it offensive. They won’t allow the picture in the yearbook because it’s the American flag. We are American! We live in America! OMG what is this country coming to? Please share,” was the full Thursday post.
However, the Facebook posting had received more than 6,000 shares by Friday, including by the popular Foxboro Facebook group Foxboro Discussion.
On Friday, Lisa Truax updated her Facebook post to say that what appears to be a flag is really a backdrop in a commercial photography studio. Morgan chose the flag backdrop to display her patriotism, the mother said.
“Let me clarify. This is a commercially produced photography backdrop not an American flag. My 18-year-old daughter wanted to show her patriotism. The issue here is the explanation I received from FHS was, they will not allow this photo because they were uncomfortable with the American flag in the background. We truly mean no disrespect to FHS, the veterans, and the American flag,” her updated post read.
Lisa Truax told The Sun Chronicle Friday night she didn’t expect the post to take off like it did. “Within hours it just absolutely blew up,” she said. “Ninety-nine percent of the people who reached out to us are in full support of it.”
High school Principal Diana Myers-Pachla said since the controversy broke on social media, the school has received numerous calls about it.
“There have been phone calls and there have been emails,” Myers-Pachla said, some from out of state.
She said people have been responsive to the school’s explanation.
Myers-Pachla said the school has been in contact with Red Wing Diner owner Liam Murphy, and on Friday were working together to come up with a mutually agreeable backdrop for a photo.
“It’s something that we’ve hoped for all along,” she said.
Murphy said the photographer has a variety of patriotic props, and he said they would be run by the school to make sure everything was acceptable.
High school career specialist Ellen Pillsbury, who also serves as the yearbook advisor, said Friday she first talked with Lisa Truax about the photo issue Thursday morning.
“I said we can’t use the one submitted because she was standing on the flag,” Pillsbury said. “The next thing I knew it all blew up (on social media).”
She said, the conversation with Truax was not heated.
Pillsbury said she gave Truax the option of submitting a new photo or submitting a cropped photo, which would then be reviewed by the school administration, a version of the story Truax disputes.
Pillsbury also said she did not characterize anything as offensive during their conversation.
Lisa Truax said while she preferred the school use the original photo, she accepted the compromise.
“I don’t feel like Foxboro High School is unpatriotic,” Lisa Truax said Friday night.
Foxboro Veterans Services Director Michael Johns was contacted by the school Thursday, after the issue exploded on social media, and Johns determined the photo was inappropriate, cropped or uncropped.
Johns, who served in the Navy for 12 years, said via email, “I don’t think the young lady had any ill intent, and fortunately the FHS yearbook advisor and principal made the hard but correct decision to not allow publication of the photograph,” which, Johns said, was inappropriate, cropped or uncropped. The flag, or a backdrop of the flag, should not be touching the ground, according to proper flag etiquette.
Both Lisa Truax and Murphy said they and Morgan had meant no disrespect to servicemen or the flag by their actions.
Murphy praised Morgan as an employee and noted her grandfather is an Army veteran, and she’s taken time off work the last two years to volunteer to rake leaves for veterans.
“We all feel that this is a misfortunate incident that got blown way out of proportion,” Murphy said.