A Released Time Religious Instruction FAQ is now available

We were contacted recently by someone who lives in the Sylvania Public school district. She said that LifeWise had a presentation scheduled for the next school board meeting and wanted to know if we had any information about the group.

Released Time Religious Instruction is allowed under Ohio Revised Code 3313.6022. The big takeaway is that school districts aren’t required to adopt RTRI policies.

Other points from the law:

(1) The student’s parent or guardian gives written consent.

(2) The sponsoring entity maintains attendance records and makes them available to the school district the student attends.

(3) Transportation to and from the place of instruction, including transportation for students with disabilities, is the complete responsibility of the sponsoring entity, parent, guardian, or student.

(4) The sponsoring entity makes provisions for and assumes liability for the student.

(5) No public funds are expended and no public school personnel are involved in providing the religious instruction.

(6) The student assumes responsibility for any missed schoolwork.

LifeWise Academy is a large religious group based in Columbus that works with local groups to install Bible classes in school districts. In 2022, LifeWise brought in over $6 million in donations, enrolls nearly 30,000 students from more than 300 schools across more than 12 states. LifeWise has a strong presence in Ohio. LifeWise will be in more than 170 Ohio school districts by next school year — more than a quarter of the state’s school districts.

LifeWise only teaches Christianity and only hires Christians to be instructors and staff.

The other issues we have is that children are being removed from school grounds for an hour more by people who don’t work for the school district and who the district doesn’t vet. The classes have absolutely no connection to anything being taught in the public school. It is basically a Sunday school during the week. LifeWise claims it is teaching character values but you can learn those values without religion.

We have created a FAQ page about Released Time Religious Instruction with additional information about the classes and LifeWise.