||Iowa law allows a wide range of Released Time programs. In addition to the traditional one-hour per week elementary program, 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.
You will need to conduct research into the legal background of Released Time at the federal level, and how decisions are made within your school system. You also need to be familiar with any state mandated education to see how a Released Time program may address these (e.g. building self-esteem or values education). The majority of school districts would require approval at the school board level, but in many school principals have authority 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 v. 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.
||According to Iowa compulsory attendance laws(§299.1) all children, ages 7-15 (inclusive), must attend public school or "attend upon equivalent instruction by a certified teacher elsewhere." ( IOWA CODE § 299.1A and IOWA CODE § 299.2)
The compulsory attendance requirements, however, do not apply to a child "while attending religious services or receiving religious instructions." ( IOWA CODE § 299.2(4)).This statute expressly allows public school children to attend religious instruction without violating compulsory attendance laws.
||(1) Op. Atty. Gen., 1953, p. 73
The Attorney General recognizes that the Board of Directors of an Iowa School District may make provision to excuse pupils so that they may attend religious instruction. There are four basic requirements which must be met:
1) Students may be excused one hour per week for religious instruction. 2) A student may only be released upon written request by his parents to the local Board of Education. 3) Religious instruction must be given by Nonschool personnel. 4) Religious instruction must be given at places which are not part of public school premises.