State of

Released Time Laws and Guidelines for the state of Oregon


Oregon compulsory attendance law (§ 339.010) requires that all children, ages 7-17 (inclusive) must attend a public school. However, a child may be exempted from compulsory attendance if lie is taught "in a private or parochial school in the courses of study usually taught ... in the public schools" [§ 339.030 (2)]. Section 339.420 of the Oregon Revised Statutes specifically allows public school children to be released up to two hours per week and secondary students up to five hours per week for the purpose of receiving religious instruction but only upon proper application by the student's parent.


Administration of the Released Time statute is left to the discretion of each local school board (Oregon Board of Education, phone (503) 378-3569).


1) Dilger v. School District 24 352 P2d 564 (1960)

The Supreme Court of Oregon in the Dilger case upheld the validity and constitutionality of the Oregon Released Time Statute. The court ruled that, "In one sense, then, the statute is mandatory - the child must be excused upon a proper application. In another sense, the statute is discretionary in permitting the administrator of the school to adjust the time within which the child will be released." (Dilger at 568) The court emphasized that although the statute states a child "may be excused," it is proper to construe the word "may" as meaning "shall" in order to carry out the intention of the Legislature (Dilger at 568).

In conclusion, the school officials must grant parents permission to have their children released for religious instruction. On the other hand, the public school may dictate the days and time the children may be excused.


1) 27 Op. Atty. Gen. (1954-56) 46

When an application to a school board is made by parents to excuse a child for a reasonable time for religious instruction, the school board may not arbitrarily refuse to grant such an application. The school board, however, may exercise discretion in disapproving such application In so far as it may interfere with the regular work of the school.

2) 23 Op. Atty, Gen. (1946-48) 473

Released Time for religious instruction upon parental consent is lawful. However, the teaching of religious instruction on public school premises or the use of public funds for such religious instruction does violate the First Amendment.

Released Time organizations in the state of Oregon

Estacada Ministerial Association Released Time
(503) 630-7472

Portland Released Time Education Program
(503) 281-7764

Released Time
(503) 458-6721

Weekday School of the Bible
(503) 623-8444


The first step is to gather as much information as you can about Oregon'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.

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 the program.

Information provided by:

The Fellowship of Christian Released Time Ministries

5722 Lime Ave. ˜ Long Beach, CA 90805

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