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Certain students could see more time for religious classes

Certain students could see more time for religious classes

by
Dustin Hurst
March 9, 2010
Dustin Hurst
Author Image
March 9, 2010

Students who attend high schools that utilize "experimental" class schedules may soon be able to have more time for religious instruction outside of their schools.

Jason Hancock, representing the Idaho Department of Education, presented a bill to members of the House Education Committee Tuesday that would change only one word in state code and would allow for greater use of release time in certain Idaho high schools.  Hancock told lawmakers that 19 high schools in the state use a trimester class system, which prohibits students from having release time periods five days per week.  Trimester systems typically feature fewer classes with longer class periods.  State code requires that those students who participate in release time miss no more than five class periods a week and no more than 165 hours per school year, a requirement which prohibits those students who attend schools using the trimester system from being able to attend religious classes five days per week.

The operative word that the legislation would target in current law is the word "and," which would be changed to the word "or" if the legislation is enacted.  Under the new bill, students who participate in release time would be allowed to miss five class periods per week or 165 hours per year.  The word "or" in the legislation ensures that those schools that have longer classes periods will be able to offer release time classes each day of the week.

The bill would not change any graduation standards for students, noted Hancock.

Rep. Steve Thayn, R-Emmett, spoke in favor of the bill, saying that "it seems pretty straight forward."  Committee members voted unanimously to approve the measure, which now heads to the full House for a vote.  Thayn will sponsor the legislation on the House floor.

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