STATUTES: Rhode Island General Laws
Rhode Island compulsory attendance law (§16-19-1), requires that all children, ages 7-15 (inclusive), must attend public school. A child may be exempted if the parent presents a certificate, setting forth that the child has attended for the required period of time a private day school or received instruction approved by the school committee. (§16-19-1).There are no express statutes either permitting or prohibiting Released Time programs in Rhode Island.
EDUCATION REGULATIONS: (Policy)
Individual students may be excused for various reasons by local school committees. However, no state Released Time program exists nor does the State Board of Education know of any local Released Time programs (Commissioner of Education, Providence, Rhode Island, phone: 401-2772046).CASES: - None ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINIONS: - None
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
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