The South Sanpete Board of Education recognizes that in conjunction with the District’s high school educational program that it establishes a set of guidelines for releasing of students from school for the purpose of attending classes in religious education. The Board also recognizes that certain practices should be observed to avoid the use of public funds or property for religious instruction and also to avoid an undesirable and unconstitutional commingling of the activities of church and state. The practice of schools agreeing to release students during the school day in order that they may receive religious instruction had its beginning in 1914. The practice is not confined to any one religion. There is a necessity of separating the institutions involved in released time, i.e., the public school system and the particular church providing religious instruction under the released-time concept.
Reference to Constitution:
Section 4 of Article I of the Constitution of the State of Utah reads:
The rights of conscience shall never be infringed. The State shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; ... There shall be no union of Church and State, nor shall any Church dominate the State or interfere with its functions. No public money or properly shall be appropriated for or applied to any religious worship, exercise or instruction, or for the support of any ecclesiastical establishment.
The South Sanpete Board of Education establishes the following guidelines to govern religious released time:
1. Under no condition should religious education classes (released-time classes) be permitted to be held in school buildings or on school property.
2. No student should be permitted to leave the school grounds during the school day to attend released-time classes, except upon the written request of the parent or guardian. Such written request shall be gathered by the organization sponsoring the released-time instruction and turned over to the principal of the school from which the student is to be released. Said written request may be on forms provided by the religious group and will become a part of the permanent record of the student.
3. When a student is given permission, upon written request of the parent, to leave the school grounds to attend a class in religious education, the school will not keep records of his or her attendance at such classes or use the school personnel or organization to regulate such attendance except as such records shall be deemed necessary by the school principal to efficiently and effectively operate the program of the school.
4. Records of attendance at "released-time" classes, grade marks, or other data will not be included in the school report to parents. All grade marks given to students for released-time classes should be given directly to the student not through the public schools.
5. No high school credit shall be issued for religious released-time instruction.
6. Released-time instruction will be granted for only one class period per day.
7. Release time instruction may not be granted during times when it interferes with completions of the student’s regular course of study or with classes required for graduation.
8. Teachers in released-time classes are not considered members of school faculties and will not be required to participate as faculty members in any school function.
9. High school yearbooks shall not include pictures, reports or any other record of functions or personnel of religious released-time classes.
10. School newspapers may print items of news related to released-time instruction or other information that is a convenience to the public school in the operation of its program.
11. No school equipment or school personnel may be used in any manner to assist in the registration for or conduct of released-time classes; however, when it benefits the school’s registration, religious personnel may be allowed to register students in conjunction with the school’s registration. As registration packets are prepared by the school, released-time information regarding schedules, registration instructions, etc., prepared by the institution offering the released-time classes may be added to the student packets by those employed or engaged by said institution. Connection of bells, intercoms, telephones, or other devices made between public school buildings and private schools offering religious instruction are done as a direct convenience to the public school in the operation of its own program.
12. Public school administrators are not to request teachers of released-time classes or administrators of institutions offering such classes to exercise functions or assume responsibilities for the public school program, which would result in a commingling of the activities of the two institutions.
13. Institutions offering religious instruction should be regarded as private schools completely separate and apart from the public schools. Those relationships which would legitimately be exercised between the public schools and any private school would be considered an appropriate relationship with these institutions, so long as public property or public funds, or other public resources are not used to aid such institutions.