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Released Time for Religious Instruction

Agreement with Religious Instruction Providers

Religious organizations wishing to provide religious instruction to APS students during the school day must enter into an agreement with the District. The agreement will include the following:

  1. The religious organization will agree to take responsibility for the safety of students from the time they leave the school campus until the time they arrive back at school. Religious instruction will take place at a suitable place away from school property as designated by the church or religious organization.
  2. The religious organization will agree to provide the school with signed permission slips from the parent or guardian of each participating student. The permission forms will be in an APS-approved format. Printing and distribution of the slips will be done at no cost to the school or District.
  3. Participation in the program will be limited to high school students who have passing grades in all courses during the previous semester, are making satisfactory progress toward graduation, and for whom a full period of daily religious instruction can be scheduled without conflict with the academic program. Students may enter the program only at the beginning of the semester. Religion classes may not be dropped before the end of the semester without principal approval.
  4. If requested by the school participating organizations must agree to provide the school with satisfactory information concerning student attendance in a manner which does not entangle the school in the operation of the religious instructional program.
  5. Participating organizations must agree to structure the program to avoid any perception of APS sponsorship of the instruction.
  6. Adult sponsors of participating organizations may not recruit potential participants on campus during school hours. Recruitment must not involve expenditure of time or money to the school.
  7. Communication with participants must take place without access to school communication systems.
  8. No credit will be awarded for religious instruction which takes place during the released time program, nor will the permanent record the student indicate participation in a released time program.

The religious organization will draft a proposed agreement and send it to the Superintendent or designee.

Implementation of Released Time Program

After a signed agreement has been filed in the Superintendent’s Office, a representative of the religious organization may contact schools from which release of students is desired. The following must be met:

  1. The release must be able to be scheduled at a time when there is no conflict with the student’s academic program. The school is not obligated to adjust the schedules of other students to accommodate a released-time program’s needs.
  2. The release must take place on a regular basis at a set time.
  3. The school can assume no costs related to the program. This prohibition includes costs of application forms, permission slips, distribution of notices, and transportation.
  4. Instruction must take place off school premises. A school may not rent or donate school facilities for released-time religious instruction.
  5. The school has the option to designate the periods during the day when students may be released without conflict with the academic program. However, restrictions on release time for religious instruction may not be more stringent than those for any other release time program. The school has the option to schedule a complete student program and require students who wish to be released to indicate which class to drop from their schedules.
  6. Principals in schools where a release time policy is in effect, with assistance from the appropriate assistant superintendent, will have the responsibility of conferring with the appropriate religious authorities in matters relating to this directive and, when deemed necessary, will take action to see that the policy and directive are followed.

Modification or Termination of Released Time Agreements

Agreements between Albuquerque Public Schools and providers of programs to release students for religious instruction will remain in effect until terminated by either party. Changes to the terms of the agreement will be in writing and endorsed by both parties.

Parents will be notified by the school if the released time program is terminated while parent permission slips are still in effect. Parents may withdraw permission at any time by signing a written revocation of permission. If a high school student is being released in place of a course, the student will not be allowed to enroll in a course until the following semester.

The desirability and value of each released time program will be evaluated annually by the program administration and the Superintendent.

Cross Ref.:

  • Board Policy I.04
  • Board Policy J.25

Legal Ref.:

  • Section 22-12-3, NMSA 1978
  • Zorach v. Clauson, U. S. 302 [1952]

NSBA/NEPN Classification: JHCB

Revised: May 1995
April 1996
May 1997