Smith v. Smith, 523 F. 2d 121 (4th Cir. 1975) cert. denied 423 U.S. 1073
In Smith, an action was brought to challenge a Released Time program whereby public school students were released during school hours for religious instruction off school premises by a nonprofit organization supported by a council of churches. The U.S. Court of Appeals held that it was their duty to follow the Zorach v. Clauson test, which held that the Released Time programs for religious instruction were constitutional as long as they did not involve public funds or take place on public school property. Smith v. Smith, 523 F.2d 121, 123 (4th Cir. 1975).
The Harrisonburg Released Time program, therefore, was constitutional since it 1) had a secular purpose in accommodating the wishes of the parents, 2) did not excessively entangle the state with religion since the religious instruction did not take place in the class rooms, and 3) its primary effect neither advanced nor inhibited religion. The Court concluded,
..public school cooperation with the religious authorities in Zorach and the instant case is a largely passive and administratively wise response to a plenitude of parental assertions of the right to direct the upbringing and education of children under their control. Smith, 523 F.2d at 125.
Thus public school cooperation with Released Time programs for religious instruction is constitutional and "administratively wise." Although this case was about a program in Virginia, it does have precedential weight in federal courts in North Carolina.
Moss v. Spartanburg County School District Seven, 683 F.3d 599 (4th Cir. 2012)
In Moss, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit upheld the South Carolina school district's practice of awarding academic credit through a religiously-affiliated private school, reiterating that Zorach is good law and holding that released time programs, and the academic credit received for them, is an accommodation of the parents' right to choose the type of education their child receives. Although this case deals with South Carolina's Released Time Statute, it does have precedencial power in federal courts in North Carolina.