State of

Released Time Laws and Guidelines for the state of Kentucky

STATUTES: Kentucky Revised Statutes

The Kentucky compulsory attendance law (§159.010) requires that all children, ages 6-15 (inclusive), must attend a public school or a private, parochial "or church regular day school" (§159.030(1) (b)).

In §158.200, the Kentucky State Legislature has given the Boards of Education of independent and county school districts authority to provide for moral instruction in their jurisdiction as long as they follow the statutory guidelines § 15 8.2 1 0 to § 15 8.260. The Board of Education of each school district may authorize a complete survey of all the public school children in order to determine which children desire moral instruction (§158.210).

The Boards of Education, in addition, "shall fix one day each week" when students may be excused for "at least one hour" to attend moral instruction in accordance with their religious faith (§ 15 8.220). All students who receive permission and attend religious instruction each week will be credited with the time spent as if they had actually been in attendance at public school (§ 15 8.240). The Legislature warns that such moral instruction may only be given without expense to any Board of Education (§158.260).


Each local school board has the authority to excuse students under a released time program, subject to the guidelines set forth in the State Statutes.

CASES: Wooley v. Spalding 293 S.W. 2d 563 (1956)

In Wooley, the Court of Appeals of Kentucky upheld an injunction prohibiting a local school board from (1) expending public funds for religious or sectarian purposes (2) keeping sectarian periodicals in the school libraries (3) and stopping the operating of public school buses on religious holidays (Wooley, at 567). The Court emphasized that the U.S. Supreme Court guidelines concerning "Released Time" as set forth in Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306, and McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203, must be respected and followed in Kentucky public schools. Therefore, no public funds can be expended for promoting or providing religious moral instruction.


(1) OAG 61-508

The Church of the Good Shepherd could, on a released time basis, provide confirmation instruction of one hour each week in parish building s to students attending the public school system.

(2) OAG 63-937

The legislature intended that the students be released from school for one hour each week to go to religious instruction conducted by religious organizations of their faith without any coercion by teachers or school administrators.

(3) OAG 66-116

Whether students will actually be excused to receive moral instruction at a parochial school is discretionary with the Board o f Education.

(4) OAG 68-254

A local school board has authority to excuse students for organized religious services or instruction but that authority is limited to one day per week and to a number of hours to be established by the board within the limits prescribed, the minimum being one hour and the maximum determined by the length of the services or instruction.

(5) OAG 75-0218

Sections KRS 158.200 to 158.260 do not authorize the releasing of pupils for moral instruction on any basis other than one hour per week, and thus a released on accumulated basis, though equivalent,

violates these sections.

(6) OAG 75-595

It is prohibited to use public school buildings for moral instruction classes, irrespective of whether or not rent is paid for the use of the premises.

(7) OAG 75-643

School buses may be used to transport children participating in a released school time program of moral instruction where the school is reimbursed by the sponsors of the program for the actual expense of operating the buses for that purpose.

Released Time organizations in the state of Kentucky

Weekday School of Religion
(606) 261-7907

Kentucky Released Time Bible Education Association
Director: John Lowder
(606) 528-9831


The first step is to gather as much information as you can about Kentucky's Released Time statute, what classes, if any, 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.

It appears from the wording of the statute ("shall fix one day each week") that Kentucky school officials could be required to approve a program. FCRTM recommends, however, that you do not demand approval, but rather present a compelling case for a Released Time program. With a carefully crafted approach and with statutory recognition, you should expect success in gaining approval for the program.

Information provided by:

The Fellowship of Christian Released Time Ministries

5722 Lime Ave. ˜ Long Beach, CA 90805

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