State of

Released Time Laws and Guidelines for the state of Ohio


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.


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.


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.

New Program in Ohio:

Director: Mary Ina Hooley
330 S. Jackson Street
Bluffton, Ohio 45817
Grades 1-5, weekly classes

Released Time organizations in the state of Ohio

Child Evangelism Fellowship Sandusky Bay Area
(419) 332-6189

Dalton WRE
(330) 669-2056

Darke County WRE
(419) 548-3291

Findlay Council of Weekday Religious Education

Garaway School Released Time Education
(330) 852-3404

Hancock County WRE
(419) 963-4873

Logan County WRE
(513) 593-1833

Mapleton School System/Ashland County WRE
(419) 281-3184

North Central & Northwestern Weekday Religious Education Program
(330) 262-6787

Released Time Breakaway
(330) 669-2056

Released Time for Christian Education

Released Time for Christian Education for Dalton
(216) 682-6832

Union Baptist Church Weekday Religious Education
(513) 242-8079

Union County After School Education
(937) 246-3892

Waynesfield-Goshen Weekday Religious Education
(419) 568-7821

Wyandot County WRE
Upper Sandusky
(419) 294-1003


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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