||According to the Indiana compulsory attendance law all children, ages 7-16 (inclusive) must attend public school or "some other school that is taught in the English language." IND. CODE § 20-33-2 (2013)
The Indiana Statutes expressly allow public school children to be excused to attend religious instruction in IND. CODE § 20-33-2-19 (2013). Upon written request from the child's parent, the school principal may permit the child to attend a school for religious instruction "which is conducted by a church or an association which is organized for religious instruction and incorporated under the law of Indiana." Once the principal grants an excuse for a child to attend religious instruction, he must specify the time periods for children to receive the instruction. The time each week for religious instruction must not exceed 120 minutes. Permission is only granted for one year and all decisions are subject to review by the superintendent of the school.
The school providing religious instruction must keep attendance records which are open to inspection by school officials. The student, in addition, will receive the same attendance credit as if he were in attendance at the public school.
Such a released time program will not be held violative of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment as long as the guidelines above are followed and the school for religious instruction is not supported in whole or in part by public funds.
||Each school system governs their own released time program while following the minimal guidelines set forth in the statute.
The "released-time movement" was inaugurated in Gary, Indiana [See Illinois ex rel. McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203, 223 (1948) in 1914.] Superintendent of Schools Wirt initiated a plan where children would be released to attend religious classes offered on church premises. Under Wirt's program, religious training was only held on church premises and the public schools could have no influence on the conduct of the church schools. Public schools could not supervise the choice of instructors or the subject matter of the classes. Under the Gary, Indiana program 619 students left the public schools for church schools during one period a week. Almost 2 million in some 2,000 communities participated in released time programs during 1947 (McCollum at 225). The released time program which was first accepted in Indiana has now become an accepted practice throughout the U.S.
In H.S. v. Huntington County Community School Corp., 616 F. Supp. 2d 863 (N.D. Ind. 2009), the federal district court of Northern Indiana held that the act of parking a trailer, combined with the fact that it incorrectly appeared that the trailer was using the school's electricity, was enough to violate the Establishment Clause. As a result, the court upheld a preliminary injunction against the program.