||The first step is to gather as much information as you can about Minnesota'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. Contact for a complete step-by-step Start Up kit to assist in this process.
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.
||Minnesota compulsory attendance law requires that all children, ages 7-15 (inclusive), must attend public school or private school, "during the entire time that the school is in session any school year." MINN. STAT. § 120A.22
A child may be excused from attendance part of the time a public school is in session if he participates in a Released Time program [§120.10 (3) (3)]. The parents of the child must request permission from the local school board in order for their child to be released to attend religious instruction. Such religious classes must be conducted by a school "maintained by some church, or association of churches, or any Sunday school association." The child may only attend religious instruction for period "not exceeding in the aggregate three hours in any week." The school for religious instruction, in addition, must be conducted and maintained in a place other than a public school building, and it may not be publicly funded in any manner. MINN. STAT. § 120A.22, Subd. 12
§ 120A.22 also provides that a student may be absent from school on such days as he attends instruction "according to the ordinances of some church." This is defined by the Attorney General as instruction necessary to retain membership.
||1) Op. Atty. Gen., 169-0, Jan 4, 1974. The last sentence in §210.10 (3) (3) authorizes absence from school when a rule of a church requires instruction to obtain or retain church membership or to entitle one to the full benefits of membership.
2) Op. Atty. Gen., 170-F-2, Aug. 25, 1944. If an application is made in good faith to the school board by a parent requesting a student to be excused from attendance in order to receive religious instruction, the board must grant the excuse to the extent provided in the statute.
3) Op. Atty. Gen., 169-C, July 1, 1943. It is improper to include a grade for religious instruction on a public school student's report card since religious instruction is separate from instruction obtained in the public schools.
4) Op. Atty. Gen., 169-0, Jan. 18, 1943. A written application by the parents requesting permission for their child to be excused for religious instruction is mandatory.
5) Op. Atty. Gen., 169-0, Oct. 8, 1941. The religious instruction for which a student may be excused from school cannot be given in a school building in which a public school is maintained.
6) Op. Atty. Gen., 170-F, Oct. 31, 1934. A school board, within its discretion, may excuse a child for religious training for the full 3 hours, or less than 3 hours, or it may refuse to excuse a child for any period.