Gov. Signs Off-Campus Religious Instruction Bill

Jun 11, 2024

Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Sitt signed a bill Wednesday to allow public school students to receive off-campus religious instruction during the regular school day.

The law allows every school district in Oklahoma to “adopt a policy that excuses a student from school to attend a released time course for no more than three class periods per week or a maximum of one hundred twenty-five class periods per year.” Oklahoma’s Republican-controlled Legislature passed the bill in May, with the State Senate voting 38-7 in favor, and the House voting 51-40, according to The Christian Post.

The language of the bill defined “release time course” as “a period of time during which a student is excused from school to attend a course in religious or moral instruction taught by an independent entity off school property.” (LEARN MORE: Teens, Young Adults Of Faith Less Stressed, Study Finds)

Parental Involvement

The bill was developed to ensure parental consent and involvement in the process. This includes “written consent prior to the student’s participation in the released time course.” School district funds are prohibited from use in the development of the instruction, and no school staff are allowed to provide the instruction.

Parents will be responsible for taking their students to the classes. Students will also be required to keep up with any missed school work while attending the religious instruction courses. Credit will be provided to those students who opt to undertake the instruction. (LEARN MORE: State Shows Huge Success With School Choice)

“Parents have the right and responsibility to guide the upbringing and education of their children,” Alliance Defending Freedom legal counsel Greg Chafuen said in a statement regarding the bill. “And many parents consider religious instruction an important part of their child’s education. While public schools can teach about the Bible from a neutral, secular perspective, release-time programs offer religious courses taught by third-party charitable organizations off school grounds during school hours.” (LEARN MORE: Universal School Choice Enacted In 10th State. What Does This Mean For You?)

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The government may think your child’s life and education career is best conducted under their rule, but we know that parents should always come first. There are entire cities where public schools can’t educate one student to math proficiency — do you really want this for your child’s experience?

You can tell your local, state, and federally elected officials how you want your public schools to look today. Sign up for www.MillionVoices.org today (text MV to 80550). We’ll ensure your voice is heard. Our mission is to ensure the voice of voters and taxpayers is turned into action, and your elected officials are held responsible for their actions.

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