Released Time Laws and Guidelines
State of Indiana
||STATUTES: Indiana Statutes Annotated
According to the Indiana compulsory attendance law (§20-8.1-3-17) all children, ages 7-15 (inclusive) must attend public school "or some other school that is taught in the English language."
The Indiana Statutes expressly allow public school children to be excused to attend religious instruction in §20.8-1-3-22. Upon written request from the child's parent, the school principal may permit the child to attend a school for religious instruction "which is conducted by a church or an association which is organized for religious instruction and incorporated under the law of Indiana." Once the principal grants an excuse for a child to attend religious instruction, he must specify the time periods for children to receive the instruction. The time each week for religious instruction must not exceed 120 minutes. Permission is only granted for one year and all decisions are subject to review by the superintendent of the school.
|The school providing religious instruction must keep attendance records which are open to inspection by school officials. The student, in addition, will receive the same attendance credit as if he were in attendance at the public school.|
EDUCATION REGULATIONS (Policy):
Each school system governs their own released time program while following the minimal guidelines set forth in the statute.
The "released-time movement" was inaugurated in Gary, Indiana (See McCollum v. Board of Educaion, 33 U.S. 203, at 223) in 1914. Superintendent of Schools Wirt initiated a plan where children would be released to attend religious classes offered on church premises. Under Wirt's program, religious training was only held on church premises and the public schools could have no influence on the conduct of the church schools. Public schools could not supervise the choice of instructors or the subject matter of the classes. Under the Gary, Indiana program 619 students left the public schools for church schools during one period a week. Almost 2 million in some 2,000 communities participated in released time programs during 1947 (McCollum at 225). The released time program which was first accepted in Indiana has now become an accepted practice throughout the U.S.
ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINIONS:
Attorney General Opinion (1956, p. 105)
This opinion concluded that the Indiana released time statute was constitutional in its entirety.
According to the statute, the school principal is authorized to permit the child to attend the Released Time class. Therefore, the principal should be among the first persons you contact. The principal is not required to allow a Released Time class, but experience tells us that a carefully crafted approach usually yields desirable results. Make sure that you are familiar with the history of Released Time in Indiana and the information given above.
Released Time is still widely used in Indiana and most principals will be aware of the program.
Released Time organizations in the state of Indiana
Information provided by:
The Fellowship of Christian Released Time Ministries
5722 Lime Ave. ˜ Long Beach, CA 90805 ˜ (562) 428-7733 1-800-360-7943 Email Us