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 Kentucky
General Information The first step is to gather as much information as you can about Kentucky's Released Time statute, what classes, if any, 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.

The wording in the statute is "shall allow" release for "at least one hour, one day a week," which doesn't suggest approval needed. However, since all of the language elsewhere in the statute is permissive, whether to allow the program is still at the discretion of the school.


Department of Education Website Kentucky Department of Education



DETAILS for Kentucky
Statutes The Kentucky compulsory attendance law requires that all children, ages 6-15 (inclusive), must attend a public school or a private, parochial "or church regular day school" (KY. REV. STAT. ANN. § 159.010 and KY. REV. STAT. ANN. § 159.030).

In KY. REV. STAT. ANN. § 158.200 to § 158.260, the Kentucky State Legislature has given the Boards of Education of independent and county school districts authority to provide for moral instruction in their jurisdiction. The Board of Education of each school district may authorize a complete survey of all the public school children in order to determine which children desire moral instruction. The Boards of Education,"shall allow" the release of students for "at least one hour, one day a week" to attend moral instruction in accordance with their religious faith. Though this appears to only put a minimum on the amount of time that must allow, the Attorney General has said that schools may release students for no longer than this amount of time as well. All students who receive permission and attend religious instruction each week will be credited with the time spent as if they had actually been in attendance at public school. The Legislaturewarns that such moral instruction may only be given without expense to any Board of Education.



 Each local school board has the authority to excuse students under a released time program, subject to the guidelines set forth in the State Statutes.


Attorney General (1) OAG 61-508 The Church of the Good Shepherd could, on a released time basis, provide confirmation instruction of one hour each week in parish buildings to students attending the public school system.

(2) OAG 63-937 The legislature intended that the students be released from school for one hour each week to go to religious instruction conducted by religious organizations of their faith without any coercion by teachers or school administrators.

(3) OAG 66-116 Whether students will actually be excused to receive moral instruction at a parochial school is discretionary with the Board of Education.

(4) OAG 68-254 A local school board has authority to excuse students for organized religious services or instruction but that authority is limited to one day per week and to a number of hours to be established by the board within the limits prescribed, the minimum being one hour and the maximum determined by the length of the services or instruction.

(5) OAG 75-0218 Sections KRS 158.200 to 158.260 do not authorize the releasing of pupils for moral instruction on any basis other than one hour per week, and thus a released on accumulated basis, though equivalent, violates these sections.

(6) OAG 75-595 It is prohibited to use public school buildings for moral instruction classes, irrespective of whether or not rent is paid for the use of the premises.

(7) OAG 75-643 School buses may be used to transport children participating in a released school time program of moral instruction where the school is reimbursed by the sponsors of the program for the actual expense of operating the buses for that purpose.


Case Law Wooley v. Spalding 293 S.W. 2d 563 (1956)

In Wooley, the Court of Appeals of Kentucky upheld an injunction prohibiting a local school board from (1) expending public funds for religious or sectarian purposes (2) keeping sectarian periodicals in the school libraries (3) and stopping the operating of public school buses on religious holidays (Wooley, at 567). The court emphasized that the U.S. Supreme Court guidelines concerning "Released Time" as set forth in Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306, and McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203, must be respected and followed in Kentucky public schools. Therefore, no public funds can be expended for promoting or providing religious moral instruction.