All the miseries and evils which men suffer from – vice, crime, ambition, injustice, oppression, slavery, and war—proceed from their despising or neglecting the precepts contained in the Bible.

Noah Webster, Father of American Scholarship and Education


Updated July 2009  
SUMMARY for Washington
General Information Washington, like many other states does not have specific laws regarding Released Time. However, this does not necessarily prohibit Released Time. In fact, it may allow a wider range of Released Time programs. Since Washington does not have specific laws regarding Released Time, a Released Time program in Washington would fall subject to the federal guideposts presented in McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203 (1948), Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306 (1952), and Grand Rapids School District v. Ball, 473 U.S. 373 (1985).

In summary, the above cases present three general requirements for Released Time programs: 1) The state cannot fund Released Time directly or indirectly. This prohibits not only funds themselves but also any support or benefit from anything purchased or anyone compensated by state funds; 2) Released Time programs cannot take place on school premises; and 3) Participation in Released Time programs must be voluntary. There cannot be any coercion, encouragement, or discouragement on the part of any school official. However, these three points are not exclusive. One should conduct thorough research on the latest federal and state case law to see whether your state or federal circuit has its own case law supplementing the requirements in McCollum, Zorach, and Ball.


Department of Education Website Washington State Board of Education



DETAILS for Washington
Statutes The Washington compulsory attendance law requires that all children, ages 8-17 (inclusive), must attend a public school for the full time the school is in session "or attend a private school for the same time." WASH. REV. CODE § 28A.225.010

There is no express statute either prohibiting or permitting public school students to be released for religious instruction. A child, however, may be excused upon the request of his parents "for purposes agreed upon by the school authorities and the parents". WASH. REV. CODE § 28A.225.010. These purposes may include religious purposes according to Perry v. School District, No. 81, Infra. Such excused absences will be allowed as long as a student's educational progress will not be adversely affected and the student can still be considered as a full-time student.


Attorney General 1) Op. Atty. General 1925-26, p.109

The District Superintendent has the authority to excuse children from attendance for reason, which he deems sufficient.

2) Op. Atty. General 1921-22, p.196

Children attending public schools have the right to be excused during regular school hours for instruction in church schools (for which no credit is given).


Case Law Perry v. School District No. 81 344 P2d 1036 (1959)

The Supreme Court of Washington recognized Zorach v. Clauson, 343 US. 306, as the standard for determining the constitutionality of Released time programs. The court held that Released time programs involving religious instruction off of public school property, for a duration of up to one hour per week and with written parental consent, do not violate the Constitution if practiced in a manner not inconsistent with First Amendment limitations.

The court concluded, the superintendent of schools is vested with statutory discretion to excuse pupils from the operation of the enactment for reasons recited in the statute and for "any other sufficient reason." The release of children upon the parent's request for religious instruction constitutes an exercise of this statutory authority. (Perry, at 1043).