Released Time Laws and Guidelines
State of Michigan
||STATUTES: MICHIGAN STATUTES ANNOTATED
According to Michigan compulsory attendance law (§15-41561), all children, ages 6-15 (inclusive), must attend a public school unless a child is attending regularly and being taught in a "State approved non public school which teaches subjects comparable to those taught in the public schools" [1541561 (3) (a)]. A child, however, will not be in violation of compulsory attendance if, while he is regularly enrolled in a public school, he attends weekly religious instruction classes [§15-41561 (3) (e)]. Certain guidelines are further set forth by the Legislature:
1) Child may only be released for religious instruction for not more than two hours per week.
2) Religious instruction must be off public school property but during - public school hours.
3) A child will be released only upon a written request by the parent. [§1541561 (3) (e)].
Michigan statutes, therefore, clearly permit Released Time programs for public school children.
EDUCATION REGULATIONS (Policy):
See Administrative Code R 340.71-340.75
Each local school district may establish their own specific Guidelines for operation of Released Time programs provided such rules are within the limits of §15-41561 (3) (e).
1) Citizens to Advance Public Education v. Porter 237 N.W. 232 (1976)
In the Porter case, the court of appeals of Michigan held that shared time secular educational programs, which provide secular instruction for nonpublic and church related schools, "Do not offend the Michigan and U.S. Constitutions" (Porter, at 238).
The shared time secular education programs may be operated on premises leased from nonpublic schools but the programs must be (1) under the authority and control of public schools, (2) operated by public school employees and (3) open to all students eligible to attend public schools.
The Michigan Appeals Court, furthermore, emphasized that shared time programs, like Released Time programs,
Merely enable parents to take advantage of both the secular education offered by our
public schools and the sectarian education by parochial schools (Porter at 238).
The court added that it recognizes Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306 (1952) as controlling precedent in the area of Released Time (Porter, at 237). The guidelines set forth in Zorach must be followed when establishing a Released Time program for public students in Michigan.
(2) Traverse City School District v. Attorney General, 384 Mich. 390 (1971).
The court held that a Released Time program which permitted public school students to leave school during the school day in order to attend religious instruction (at various religious centers) did not violate the Free Exercise and Establishment clauses of the U.S. Constitution. (Also see In Re Proposal-C 185 N.W. 2d 9 (1971).
ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINIONS: - None
The first step is to gather as much information as you can about Michigan's Released Time statute, where classes are being conducted, and how a Released Time program may address state educational objectives (e.g. self-esteem, values education). Determine who will make the decision whether to allow a program and make an appointment to see that person. If the principal refers you to the school board, you would be wise to meet individually with school board members before presenting the concept at a school board meeting.
Keep in mind that school officials are not required to approve a program. However, with a carefully crafted approach and with statutory recognition, you should expect success in gaining approval for the program.
Released Time organizations in the state of Michigan
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