STATUTES: MINNESOTA STATUTES ANNOTATED
Minnesota compulsory attendance law (§120.10) requires that all children, ages 7-15 (inclusive), must attend public school or private school, "during the entire time that the school is in session any school year."
A child may be excused from attendance part of the time a public school is in session if he participates in a Released Time program [§120.10 (3) (3)]. The parents of the child must request permission from the local school board in order for their child to be released to attend religious instruction. Such religious classes must be conducted by a school "maintained by some church, or association of churches, or any Sunday school association." The child may only attend religious instruction for period "not exceeding in the aggregate three hours in any week."
The school for religious instruction, in addition, must be conducted and maintained in a place other than a public school building, and it may not be publicly funded in any manner.Section 120.10 (3) (3) also provides that a student may be absent from school on such days as he attends instruction "according to the ordinances of. some church." This is defined by the Attorney General as instruction necessary to retain membership.
EDUCATION REGULATIONS (Policy):
The method of governing a Released Time program is left to the discretion of each local school board.
CASES: - None
ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINIONS:1) Op. Atty. Gen., 169-0, Jan 4, 1974. The last sentence in §210.10 (3) (3) authorizes absence from school when a rule of a church requires instruction to obtain or retain church membership or to entitle one to the full benefits of membership. 2) Op. Atty. Gen., 170-F-2, Aug. 25, 1944. If an application is made in good faith to the school board by a parent requesting a student to be excused from attendance in order to receive religious instruction, the board must grant the excuse to the extent provided in the statute.
Released Time organizations in the state of Minnesota
Eagle Valley Released Time
Released Time Christian Education; GSPAE
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.
The Fellowship of Christian Released Time Ministries
5722 Lime Ave. ˜ Long Beach, CA 90805Contact Us