KCS board votes down religious release time policy, draws mixed community reaction

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KNOX COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) – Knox County school leaders voted down a religious release policy in a narrow 5-4 vote.

Wednesday night’s decision came after a trial period at Sterchi Elementary School, and the vote didn’t come without controversy.

But what exactly were they voting on? The school board vice chair explained there’s is a state law allowing for students to be released for religious study, and it also allows school boards to pass a policy that really would allow a more organized effort of release time.

School leaders’ vote against that policy left some in the audience disappointed, others relieved.

“It’s incredibly relieving to hear that they voted against the policy, incredibly relieving,” said Angel Jones, who spoke at the podium against the policy.

“God is sovereign over everything, and He allowed this to happen like this for a purpose, so that’s how I choose to believe,” Leslie Bryant, who spoke in favor of the policy, said.

The school board’s vice chair, Virginia Babb, spoke about what will happen next.

“If we had been 5 in favor of it, it would have moved on to next month, and that would have been the official vote. Because we opposed the vote tonight, it stops. So the policy is dead at this point,” Babb said.

Babb said this is something that is still legal for parents to do under state and federal law, but this is where the discussion stops at the school board level.

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