Gov. Lee signs religious release hour bill, excusing students from school for religious instruction

Tennessee

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — Governor Bill Lee signed the religious release hour bill this week, which allows local school boards to adopt policies that excuses a student from school so they can attend a released time course in religious moral instruction.

The bill had been filed for introduction on the House floor in February; introduced as HB 2542 (SB 2473).

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According to the bill summary, the bill requires public schools to excuse a student from school to attend a released time course in religious moral instruction for one hour per school day, regardless of whether the local board of education has adopted a policy, upon the request of a student’s parent or legal guardian.

Earlier this month, the Tennessee legislature passed the bill for the governor’s signature.

The bill summary goes on to state the same requirements that apply to released time course attendance in LEAs that have adopted a policy that will apply to students who are excused to attend a released time course under this bill.

Also, any transportation to and from the place of instruction for a released time course, including transportation for students with disabilities, is the responsibility of the independent entity that teaches the course, parent, legal guardian, or student. The bill does authorize LEAs that provide school transportation services for students to provide students attending a released time course with transportation to and from the place of instruction if the independent entity that teaches the course reimburses the LEA for the cost of providing the transportation service.

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