Morgan Bentley was sent home from class because her pants were deemed to be too tight – and the 12-year-old’s parents were outraged. So when the school responsible went on to defend its decision, Morgan’s mother decided to fight back, responding in a way that may just strike a chord with moms and dads everywhere.
Back in 2015 Morgan lived in Franklin Township, Indiana, with mom Traci and dad Rodney. At that time, like many 12-year-olds in the U.S., Morgan attended her local middle school. But though the school year may have progressed relatively straightforwardly for the young girl at first, in November 2015 she would find herself at the center of a dispute.
That controversy began when Morgan found herself called to a meeting because of her clothes. More specifically, it was all down to the style of pants that she had been wearing to class from her first days at Franklin Township Middle School West. She was typically clad in skinny jeans, simply because these were the best option for her slender frame.
In the meeting, however, Morgan was told that she had broken the rules. According to her superiors, the youngster’s skinny jeans were an infringement of the dress code as they were too close-fitting. And as a consequence of this ruling, school officials gave Morgan an on-campus suspension.
Morgan’s mom only learned of her daughter’s suspension when the school sent her an email explaining the situation. However, it would come to light that the institution’s rules on “form-fitting” clothing were clearly outlined in its handbook.
The handbook stated, for instance, “The following are never acceptable for students to wear at school: shorts (see guidelines for pants), wrap-around skirts [and] form-fitting clothes (a good rule of thumb would be what the ninth grade center/high school uses – if it has any spandex and/or no pockets, it shouldn’t be worn).”
However, Morgan’s mom, Traci, believed that the decision made by the school was a ridiculous one. “I feel like there’s nothing inappropriate about a skinny jean,” she told Indianapolis NBC affiliate WTHR in 2015. “I’m her mother. I’m not going to send her in anything that I feel is inappropriate.”
What’s more, when the school emailed Traci to tell her of Morgan’s offence, its message claimed that her child should only have received a warning for her jeans, as this had been the first time that she had been deemed in violation of the dress code. Suspension may have appeared a rather draconian move to the parent, then.
But even though Traci may have been angry at the decision, the responsible mom nevertheless wanted to avoid Morgan landing in trouble once more. As a result, the schoolgirl wore a different pair of pants to class the following day. However, once again, the school told Morgan that her new jeans were inappropriate.
Rather than argue with the school, though, Morgan’s parents simply decided to try again. So, next day, they sent her to class in yet another pair of pants. But, incredibly, those in charge still said that Morgan’s clothes were too tight.
Unsurprisingly, the ruling left Morgan’s parents stunned. “Three days in a row,” an astonished Traci said to WTHR. Dad Rodney added, “We switched pants three different times, and three different times they sent her home.”
At this point, Morgan and her parents may have felt at a loose end. That’s because her skinny jeans weren’t merely a fashion statement: they were the only style of pants that could accommodate the pre-teen’s growing figure. “We can’t find anything else for me to wear,” Morgan explained to WTHR at the time.
“She is extremely petite, so trying to find clothes that fit her is difficult,” Traci would also tell WRTV in 2015. She added, “I just don’t think it’s appropriate to send her to school in sweatpants. It’s dumbfounding, I just don’t get it.”
In addition, Franklin Township Middle School West had explained that Morgan could only return to class once she had on an appropriate pair of pants. So, she and her dad set out on a shopping trip, attempting to locate an item of clothing of which the school would approve.
However, finding Morgan pants that suited both her and the school rules wasn’t an easy task. Rodney later revealed to WTHR, “Me and Morgan went to Kohl’s and Target, and we spent over two hours there going through sweatpants, zero-fitting jeans, everything. And none of them would fit her.”
To make matters worse, Rodney had trouble deciphering what was acceptable in the eyes of Franklin Township Middle School West. “There were a couple of [pairs of pants] that would have been fine to me, as a father letting my girl to go to school in,” he explained. “[But the school] would have sent her back home again.”
Furthermore, while talking to WTHR, the doting dad seemed to be concerned about the effect that the whole charade had had on his young daughter. “We were [shopping] for over two hours, and she was crying during the process of doing it,” Rodney revealed.
Morgan’s mom appeared to have understood her daughter’s discontent, too. Traci said, “To go into that fitting room and to try on several different clothes and for them to not fit you appropriately, or for her to think that it doesn’t fit her appropriately, or that someone is going to judge her – of course it’s going to affect her self-esteem.” She added, “It’s heartbreaking to us.”
As it turned out, however, the Franklin Township Community School Corporation would reveal that the school district was sticking by its decision to punish Morgan. It would be Traci who would make the most powerful statement on the matter, though, slamming Morgan’s school for not fulfilling its duty to her daughter – and in a rather forthright manner.
Specifically, Traci told WRTV, “[Morgan]’s not getting the proper education. She’s behind in school, and we’re spending two days now focusing on pants that are too tight.” The concerned mom added, “It’s unfathomable to me that there’s this big of an issue on dress code and not her education.” And given that Morgan’s schooling was suffering, many wouldn’t fault Traci for speaking out in this way.