School Ministries is the closest missionary field you are ever going to have. A missionary is not only one who crosses an ocean.  A missionary is one who sees the cross, and we have a mission field right outside our doors in our public schools.

James F. O’Bryon, Consultant on national defense and security and Chair SMI Board


Updated July 2009  
SUMMARY for Michigan
General Information The first step is to gather as much information as you can about Michigan's Released Time statute, where classes are being conducted, and how a Released Time program may address state educational objectives (e.g. self-esteem, values education). Determine who will make the decision whether to allow a program and make an appointment to see that person. If the principal refers you to the school board, you would be wise to meet individually with school board members before presenting the concept at a school board meeting.

Keep in mind that school officials are not required to approve a program. However, with a carefully crafted approach and with statutory recognition, you should expect success in gaining approval for the program.


Department of Education Website Michigan Department of Education



DETAILS for Michigan
Statutes According to Michigan compulsory attendance law, all children, ages 6-16 (inclusive), must attend a public school unless a child is attending regularly and being taught in a "State approved non public school which teaches subjects comparable to those taught in the public schools." MICH. COMP. LAWS § 380.1561

A child, however, will not be in violation of compulsory attendance if, while he is regularly enrolled in a public school, he attends weekly religious instruction classes [§15-41561 (3) (e)]. MICH. COMP. LAWS § 380.1561(3)(e) Certain guidelines are further set forth by the legislature:

1) Child may only be released for religious instruction for not more than two hours per week.

2) Religious instruction must be off public school property but during public school hours.

3) A child will be released only upon a written request by the parent.

Michigan statutes, therefore, clearly permit Released Time programs for public school children.


Case Law Citizens to Advance Public Education v. Porter, 237 N.W. 232 (1976)

In the Porter case, the court of appeals of Michigan held that shared time secular educational programs, which provide secular instruction for nonpublic and church related schools, "Do not offend the Michigan and U.S. Constitutions" (Porter at 238).

The shared time secular education programs may be operated on premises leased from nonpublic schools but the programs must be (1) under the authority and control of public schools, (2) operated by public school employees and (3) open to all students eligible to attend public schools.

The Michigan Appeals Court, furthermore, emphasized that shared time programs, like Released Time programs,

Merely enable parents to take advantage of both the secular education offered by our public schools and the sectarian education by parochial schools (Porter at 238).

The court added that it recognizes Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306 (1952) as controlling precedent in the area of Released Time (Porter, at 237). The guidelines set forth in Zorach must be followed when establishing a Released Time program for public students in Michigan.