Lanner v. Wimmer, 662 F.2d 1349 (10th Cir. 1981)
In Lanner, the Court of Appeals held that Released Time programs permitting attendance at religious classes off school premises, do not per se offend the Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses. The Court recognized that Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306, which is still good law, declared that public schools may permit the released of students during school hours for attendance at religious classes. Lanner, 662 F.2d at 1358. These religious classes, in addition, must be taught by religious teachers on private property. Lanner, 662 F.2d at 1354.
The Court concluded,
We hold that except for the creidt and the attendance-gethering procedure, neither the individual aspects of the Released Time program nor the cumulative effect of the various aspects of the program violate the Establishment Clause. Lanner, 662 F.2d at 1359.
Since the Utah Released Time program was substantially similar to the program in Zorach, the Utah program was declared constitutional. The public school's gathering of religious instruction attendance slips (which had been prepared and provided by the public school) and the granting of state credit for the religious instruction had to be discontinued because it violated the First Amendment Establishment Clause. The Court found that "less-entangling" alternatives could replace the present entangling procedures of Released Time attendance.
Note that in Lanner, credit was disallowed because the state policy required that the religious instruction be non-sectarian, which placed the State in the Constitutionally impermissible position of judging religious content. Credit may be allowed if the determination is based on objective criteria such as teacher qualification.
Though this case deals with released time in Utah, it still has precedential weight in federal courts in New Mexico.