Released Time Laws and Guidelines
State of Arkansas
STATUTES: Arkansas Statutes Annotated
Arkansas compulsory attendance law (§80-1503) requires that children, ages 7-16 (inclusive), must attend a public, private, or parochial school.
The Board of Directors of each school district in the State has the authority to adopt student attendance policies (§80-1504). All children who desire to be released for religious purposes should present a written request to the local School Board of Directors.
EDUCATION REGULATIONS (Policy): - None
CASES: - None
ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINIONS: - None
Like your state, many do not have specific laws or guidelines concerning Released Time. The absence of a specific law does not necessarily prohibit Released Time programs. In fact, it may allow a wider range of Released Time programs. For example, it is possible to offer Released Time classes as an off-campus elective class on the High School or Junior High level, which students take daily. This is being done in states such as Georgia, Florida, Utah, Arizona, and Idaho.
The particular challenge in your state is that in the absence of a specific statute, you will need to conduct research into the legal background of Released Time at the federal level (FCRTM can help!), and how decisions are made within your school system. The majority of school districts would require approval at the school board level, but many are moving to "site-based management,' which would perhaps allow individual school principals to approve a Released Time program. Once your research is complete, you will need to approach the appropriate decision-maker(s) with a proposal for a Released Time class.
Even with the Supreme Court decision of 1952 (Zorach vs. Clauson), we must remember that approval for a Released Time program is a privilege, not a right. School principals and school boards may accommodate a Released time program, but they are not required to do so. Experience teaches us that a carefully crafted approach, coupled with a positive relationship with school officials will usually open the doors for a Released Time program.
Information provided by: The Fellowship of Christian Released Time Ministries
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