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State Laws - West Virginia

Released Time Laws and Guidelines
State of West Virginia

STATUTES: West Virginia Code Annotated

The West Virginia compulsory attendance law 18-8-1(a)) requires that all children, ages 7-15 (inclusive), must attend public school or receive instruction in a private, parochial or other approved school.

The West Virginia legislature has expressly granted an exemption from compulsory attendance for all children released from public school for religious instruction. Section 18-8-1, Exemption J, vests power in the County Board of Education to approve exemption for religious instruction upon a written request from tile parent.

Exemption for religious instruction upon a written request from the parent.  Exemption for religious instruction, however, "shall be subject to the rules and regulations prescribed by the county superintendent and approved by the County Board of Education."  Released Time is clearly permitted in West Virginia.

EDUCATION REGULATIONS: (Policy)

Released Time for religious instruction is allowed provided such programs follow the guidelines set forth by each local school board.

CASES: 

None

ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINIONS:

None

FCRTM RECOMMENDATIONS:

The first step is to gather as much information as you call about West Virginia's Released Time statute, what, if anything, is being done with Released Time iii tile state, and how a Released Time program may address state educational objectives (e.g. self-esteem. values education). Determine who will make tile 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 tile program.


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