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State Laws - Ohio

Released Time Laws and Guidelines
State of Ohio

 STATUTES: OHIO REVISED CODE

Ohio compulsory attendance law (�3321.03) requires that all children, ages 7-15 (inclusive) must attend public school "or to otherwise cause him to be instructed in accordance with the law." This includes attendance at either private, parochial or home schools (�332.104).

The local board of education of a county school district, in addition, "may prescribe the authority by which and the manner in which any child may be excused for absence" from the public schools "for good and sufficient reasons" [�3321.04 (c)]. This authority to establish rules for excusing students may be used to establish Released Time programs for public school students to receive religious instruction. No express statutes permitting or prohibiting Released Time exist in Ohio.

EDUCATION REGULATIONS (Policy):

Excusing children for religious instruction is left to the discretion of each local school board.

CASES:   Moore v. Board of Education 212 N.E. ad 833 (1965)

The Court of Common Pleas of Ohio held that a particular Released Time religious program maintained by the Board of Education resulted in the establishment of one particular religion (Catholic) and thus violated the U.S. Constitution. The Released Time program was conducted for one hour per day, 5 days a week, on public school grounds and was taught by public school teachers. The court determined that such a program had the effect of providing sectarian instructions to public school children at public expense (Moore at 841). One religious sect, to the exclusion of all others, is the recipient of instruction in its religious faith through this Released Time program (Moore at 844). In conclusion, the Court emphasized that these particular Released Time programs made the public schools nothing more than "instruments for securing attendance at denominational classes." (Moore, at 844).

The court relied heavily on McCollum v. Bomd of Education, 333 U.S. 203, and the Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306, using their tests for determining the proper Released Time program. As a result, although the specific Released Time program involved in Moore was ruled unconstitutional, the court implied that a Released Time program which conforms with Zorach may be operated in Ohio. A Released Time program is constitutional if it takes place off public school property, is not financed by public funds, and is not taught by public school teachers.

ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINIONS:

1925 OAG p. 721

The county board of education may promulgate rules and regulations whereby children may be excused one hour each week for the purpose of attending Catechism.

FCRTM RECOMMENDATIONS:

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.



Released Time organizations in the state of Ohio
Organization City Phone
Child Evangelism Fellowship Sandusky Bay Area  Fremont  (419) 332-6189
Dalton WRE  Dalton  (330) 669-2056
Darke County WRE  Greenville  (419) 548-3291
Findlay Council of Weekday Religious Education  Findlay 
Garaway School Released Time Education  Sugarcreek  (330) 852-3404
Hancock County WRE  Findlay  (419) 963-4873
Logan County WRE  Bellefontaine  (513) 593-1833
Mapleton School System/Ashland County WRE  Ashland  (419) 281-3184
North Central & Northwestern Weekday Religious Education Program  Wooster  (330) 262-6787
Released Time Breakaway  Smithville
(330) 669-2056
Released Time for Christian Education  Orrville 
Released Time for Christian Education for Dalton  Marshallville  (216) 682-6832
Union Baptist Church Weekday Religious Education  Cincinnati  (513) 242-8079
Union County After School Education  Raymond  (937) 246-3892
Waynesfield-Goshen Weekday Religious Education  Waynesfield  (419) 568-7821
Wyandot County WRE  Upper Sandusky  (419) 294-1003




New Program in Ohio:

Mary Ina Hooley, Director.  Email: hooleymi@bluffton.edu
Address: 330 S. Jackson St., Bluffton, Ohio 45817.  Grades 1-5, weekly classes.



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1-800-360-7943  Email Us

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