STATUTES: Texas Education Code Annotated
The Texas compulsory attendance law (§21.032) requires that all children, ages 7-16 (inclusive), must attend public schools or be:"in attendance upon a private or parochial school which shall include in its course a study of good citizenship" (§21.033 (1)). A school district may grant an excuse for child's absence for certain "unusual causes," upon a written note signed by the parent stating the reason for the absence (§21.033). This statute may give the school districts authority to grant excuses to children for Released Time for Religious instruction. A school district, in addition, must excuse a student from attending school for the purpose of observing religious holy days if the parent, beforehand, submits a written request for the excused absence (§21.035 (f)). The student will not be penalized for such absences. Again, this statute may give the school districts the authority to grant Released Time absences for religious instruction.
EDUCATION REGULATIONS: (Policy) - NoneCASES: - None ATTORNEY GENERAL OPINIONS: - None
Released Time organizations in the state of TexasReleased Time Christian Education of Texas
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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