I compare Released Time to the parable of Jesus concerning the seed and the sower.  Everyday our teachers sow the seed of God’s word and it does not return void.

J. E. Ellenburg, Retired denominational association minister


Updated July 2009  
SUMMARY for Vermont
General Information The first step is to gather as much information as you can about Vermont'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.

With a carefully crafted approach and with statutory recognition, you should expect success in gaining approval for the program.


Department of Education Website Vermont Department of Education

Website: http://www.state.vt.us/educ/


DETAILS for Vermont





















Case Law

Vermont compulsory attendance law requires that all children, ages 6-16 (inclusive), must attend an approved public school or an approved or reporting private school for the full number of days which school is held. VT. STAT. ANN. tit. 16, § 1121

According to VT. STAT. ANN. tit. 16, §§ 1051-1055, it is the policy of the State of Vermont to cooperate with religious groups by adjusting the schedule of public schools to provide periodic Release Time for religious instruction, "provided that such adjustments do not interfere with the conduct of secular educational programs in the schools." The board of directors of each school district "shall make available periodic Released Time" (section 1053) if requested by a religious group (an association of persons for religious purposes). Periodic Released Time religious education courses will also be included in public school catalogs.

Periodic Released Time education courses, however, must comply with several conditions:

1. Such a religious course may not be conducted on public school property.

2. Such a religious course may not interfere with a student's graduation requirements.

3. No administrator or public school teacher may direct a student to take or not to take a Released Time course.

4. No student may be released for religious instruction unless he obtains written permission from his parent and the sponsoring religious group. 5. All costs involved in the religious instruction must be borne by the sponsoring religious group.

6. Student may be released at least once a week.


Pierce ex rel. Pierce v. Sullivan West Central School Dist., 379 F.3d 56, 191 Ed. Law Rep. 36 (2d Cir. 2004).

New York's Education Law provision allowing "released time" from public schools for religious instruction did not violate Establishment Clause as implemented by school district, using no public funds and involving no on-site religious instruction; program was purely voluntary and there was no specific coercion or pressure brought to bear on non-participants by school officals. Though this case deals with released time in New York, it has precendtial weight in federal courts in Vermont.