Issue Date: 8/21/2019
“Released-time” means a period of time during the regular school day when a student attending a public school is excused from the school at the request of the student’s parent.
“Non-entangling criteria” means neutral course instruction and standards that are:
- Academic as opposed to devotional;
- Promote awareness as opposed to acceptance of any religion;
- Expose to as opposed to imposing a particular view;
- Educate about religion; and
- Inform but do not seek to make students conform to any religion.
Interaction between public schools and released-time classes
A student may attend released-time classes only upon the written request of the student’s parent or legal guardian. A public school may not maintain records of attendance for released-time classes or use school personnel or school resources to regulate such attendance.
A teacher of a released-time class is not a member of the public school faculty. A released-time teacher may participate in school activities as a community member (to the same extent and manner that a general member of the community would be allowed to participate).
A public school teacher, administrator, or other official may not request teachers of released-time classes to exercise functions or assume responsibilities of the public school program which would result in commingling the activities of the school and the released-time class sponsor. Public school personnel may not participate in released-time classes during work hours.
A public school class schedule or class catalog may not include a released-time class by name. At the convenience of the school, a registration form may contain a space for a released-time designation. A released-time class may not use school resources or equipment.
A public school publication may not include pictures, reports, or records of released-time classes.
Additional conditions for religious released-time programs
Institutions offering religious instruction are private programs or schools separate and apart from the public schools. Those relationships that are legitimately exercised between the public school and any private school are appropriate with institutions offering released-time classes, so long as public property, public funds, or other public resources are not used to aid such institutions. A public school may grant elective credit for religious released-time classes if the public school establishes neutral, non-entangling criteria with which to evaluate the released-time courses.
A religious class may not be held in any school buildings or on school property in any way that permits public money or property to be applied to, or that requires public employees to become entangled with, any religious worship, exercise, or instruction.
Religious released-time scheduling shall take place on forms and supplies or through electronic applications or channels furnished by the religious institution and by personnel employed or engaged by the religious institution and shall occur off public school premises. Records of attendance at religious released-time classes, grades, marks or other data relating to such attendance may not be included in the correspondence or reports made by a public school to parents.
A public school may not directly connect bells, telephones, computers or other devices between public school buildings and institutions offering religious instruction except as a convenience to the public school in the operation of its own programs. (This does not prohibit public schools from connecting to the Internet or other networks that are open to use by the general public.) When direct connection is permitted and put in place, the costs shall be borne by the respective institutions (the public school and the religious institution each shall fairly share in the cost).