State of

Released Time Laws and Guidelines for the state of Michigan


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.


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).


Released Time organizations in the state of Michigan

Gateway Comm Church/KYB Clubs
(517) 467-2324

RBM Ministries, Inc.

BCM International of Western Michigan classes in Kent Co. (616) 457-3840


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.

Information provided by:

The Fellowship of Christian Released Time Ministries

5722 Lime Ave. ˜ Long Beach, CA 90805

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