There is a driving need for American churches to renew their commitment to reading and disciplining young people, and Released Time Bible Education is the most effective way of reaching children who otherwise would never enter a church.  School Ministries’ role is to assist churches in those efforts.


Kenneth Breivik, School Ministries Executive Director

Rhode Island

Updated July 2009
SUMMARY for Rhode Island
General Information Rhode Island, like many other states does not have specific laws regarding Released Time. However, this does not necessarily prohibit Released Time. In fact, it may allow a wider range of Released Time programs. Since Rhode Island does not have specific laws regarding Released Time, a Released Time program in Rhode Island would fall subject to the federal guideposts presented in McCollum v. Board of Education, 333 U.S. 203 (1948), Zorach v. Clauson, 343 U.S. 306 (1952), and Grand Rapids School District v. Ball, 473 U.S. 373 (1985).

In summary, the above cases present three general requirements for Released Time programs: 1) The state cannot fund Released Time directly or indirectly. This prohibits not only funds themselves but also any support or benefit from anything purchased or anyone compensated by state funds; 2) Released Time programs cannot take place on school premises; and 3) Participation in Released Time programs must be voluntary. There cannot be any coercion, encouragement, or discouragement on the part of any school official. However, these three points are not exclusive. One should conduct thorough research on the latest federal and state case law to see whether your state or federal circuit has its own case law supplementing the requirements in McCollum, Zorach, and Ball.

 

Department of Education Website Rhode Island Department of Education

Website: http://www.ridoe.net/

 

DETAILS for Rhode Island
Statutes Rhode Island compulsory attendance law requires that all children, ages 7-15 (inclusive), must attend public school. A child may be exempted if the parent presents a certificate, setting forth that the child has attended for the required period of time a private day school or received instruction approved by the school committee. R.I. GEN. LAWS § 16-19-1

There are no express statutes either permitting or prohibiting Released Time programs in Rhode Island.