Released Time Laws and Guidelines
State of Delaware
ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINIONS:
||STATUTES: Delaware Code Annotated
The Delaware compulsory attendance law (§2702) requires that all children, ages 6-15 (inclusive), must attend public school unless the "child is elsewhere receiving regular and thorough instruction" (§2703).
Students enrolled in the public school system, however, may be excused by the superintendent of schools or by persons authorized by him (§2706). This seems to imply that children may be released to attend religious instruction provided they obtain a valid excuse from a school official.
EDUCATION REGULATIONS: (Policy)
Released Time programs are allowed or controlled according to the discretion of the local school boards. Department of Instruction telephone: 302-736-4647.
Opinion of the Attorney General 64-034, September 4, 1964 The Attorney General has stated,
"Upon written request of parents, students may obtain released time for religious
exercises or instruction off of the school premises. Those students not securing
Released Time would remain in school. The School Board may determine when
such Released Time may be allowed (p. 118).
The opinion also emphasizes that Released Time programs are Constitutional because it involves no State sponsorship of religion nor is the State antagonistic toward religion. Released Time does not violate the position of "neutrality" required of the State on matters of religion.
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
5722 Lime Ave. ˜ Long Beach, CA 90805 ˜ (562) 428-7733
(800) 360-7943 Email Us