State of
South Dakota

Released Time Laws and Guidelines for the state of South Dakota

STATUTES: South Dakota Compiled Laws

South Dakota compulsory attendance law (§13-27-1) requires that all children, ages 7-15 (inclusive), must "attend regularly some public or nonpublic elementary school for the entire term" which the public school is in session.

According to §13-33-10, a child may be excused for taking a receiving religious instruction "conducted by some church or association of churches." A student will only be released upon application of his parent or guardian.

A child may be released for one hour per week to receive religious instruction. The statute does provide, in addition, that the school board may allow the student to accumulate up to four hours or excused leave time "to be taken consecutively on any one day or two hours to be taken on any two days. "The local school board has the discretion to decide which hour of the week a child will be excused. Public funds may not be used to finance any Released Time programs.


The local superintendent or school board has the authority to establish their own specific guidelines for operation of Released Time absences subject to §13-33-10. (South Dakota State Board of Education
Phone 605-773-3134.

CASES: - None


1) Report 1949-50, p.1 - Released Time law is constitutional and therefore valid.

2) Report 1949-50 p. 309 - The local superintendent or board has broad discretionary authority as to the governing of Released Time absences for religious instruction.

3) Report 1947-48, P7 - The dismissal of school is not authorized if the reason is to allow for religious instruction.

4) Opinion No. 75-43 - Vacant public school classrooms may not be used for giving religious instruction during Released Time.


The first step is to gather as much information as you can about South Dakota'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 g 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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