STATUTES: South Carolina Code
South Carolina compulsory attendance law (§59-65-10) requires that all children, ages 6-15 (inclusive) must "attend regularly a public or private school."According to section 59-6540, a child may substitute for public school attendance "instruction during the school term at a place other than a school." The instruction, however, must be approved by the State Board of Education as "substantially equivalent" to instruction given in public schools. No expressed Released Time statute exists presently in the South Carolina Statutes.
EDUCATION REGULATIONS (Policy):
South Carolina recognizes Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306 in its school manual as the standard for establishing a proper policy regarding Released Time for religious instruction. Released Time, therefore is allowed in South Carolina as long as it is treated merely as an excused absence granted by the local school board and not a part of the official public school program.(South Carolina State Board of Educafion, (803)-758-3403) CASES: - None ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINIONS: - None
Released Time organizations in the state of South Carolina
CLC of Midlands
Columbia Ware Shoals Released Time Program
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
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