Getting out of school to study the Bible: released time study is the law

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By Diamond Henry
Bath-DeWitt Connection staff reporter

DEWITT — When you think about modern-day public education, religion does not come to mind. In the city of DeWitt, however, that might not be the case.

DeWitt Public Schools participates in a program called released time. This program is not school-sponsored, but students in the district are allowed to leave school for up to two hours a month and taken to an off-campus location for Bible study.

Not many people are aware of this program. According to Michigan law, legislature states in Act 451 of 1976, section D: a child can be released for two class hours a week for religious instruction classes.

Debbie Price, the person in charge of the program for DeWitt public schools is in charge of other school’s programs around the Lansing area as well. Even though law states students can have two hours each week, Price runs her program for only two hours per month.

“It’s just a time constraint; I don’t have time to do more than one class per month because I wouldn’t be able to do the other classes,” said Price, who runs 30 Bible study classes in all.

Price also teaches the classes for the program, which is through RBM Ministries, whose headquarters are in Kalamazoo. She has been running the program for four years.

According to Price, classes are October-April, giving September for schools and the program to get started and May being left for end of the year wrap ups for the schools.

“There’s about 12-15 students, entirely from the elementary schools (Schavey Road Elementary and David Scott Elementary), that participate from DeWitt,” said Price. The released time isn’t just limited to elementary level children though. Any student is allowed to participate with parent permission according to the law.

Schavey Road Elementary at Schavey Road and David Scott Elementary at Wilson St.

Schavey Road Elementary at Schavey Road and David Scott Elementary at Wilson St.

The released time is not a fan favorite necessarily. It’s reception across the state in other cities such as Fruitport are not as welcome.

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