One of my father's proudest accomplishments was instituting a released-time seminary program at a high school in one of the stakes he oversaw. Thankfully it wasn't the high school we, his kids, attended because I always wondered why anyone would want to waste a period going to seminary. (Our seminary class met in our house before school).
Released Time has been legal since the 1940s, but there are restrictions: schools cannot host/finance/encourage it, they have to remain neutral. LDS Inc is well known for it because their members are sufficiently concentrated in a few states (UT, AZ, ID---not sure if NV has it) to make it worth doing. In areas with lower membership, early morning seminary is conducted.
Anaheim CA public schools, prior to the 1990s--when they rapidly transitioned from being mainly Anglo to mainly Hispanic--used to have released time operated by a consortium of mainline Protestant churches. They used portable trailers for classrooms and offered instruction two or three times a week. The trailers were moved between various schools on different days of the week. Now that the student population is majority Catholic, the numbers are no longer there.
Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 11/26/2017 09:33PM by PtLoma.
Of the possibilities (generic Protestant, Catholic, Mormon, or Jewish),available when I was in elementary school and we had released time, I was placed (by default) into the generic "Protestant" group (which my Mom signed off on, and which was held in our local Congregational Church).
I was bored beyond endurance by the assigned-time classes and material (after several years of growing-up in Vedanta, doing the Vedanta kind of in-depth thinking---which has a lot in common with Jewish thinking, actually---I was basically desperate).
I kept BEGGING my Mom to PLEASE get me re-assigned to (in order of preference) the Jewish (my first choice), or the Catholic or Mormon groups (and I would have happily accepted either Catholic or Mormon, because in both cases, I would have actually been LEARNING something!!!).
My Mom told me it was impossible, because (according to her) you had to BE Jewish, or Catholic, or Mormon in order to be assigned to those groups.
I now realize that this was never the case...I absolutely COULD have been reassigned to those groups. They DID have kids in them who were not "officially" those religions (probably mostly, I think, because their parents were of different religions)...
...but the underlying principle was already in place: a student did NOT have to be an "official" member of those groups in order to be assigned to them.
Anyway...other than homemaking classes in junior high (which were required for girls) those assigned-time classes at our local Congregational church were THE most boring and wasted hours I ever spent in school because we the students did not, to my knowledge anyway, ever learn ANYTHING!!! (In any of the other choices, I would have been learning a great deal that would have been new and valuable to me.)
I should add that Early Morning LDS Seminary does exist in Utah. The Canyons school district in Sandy implemented several honors diplomas with tougher requirements than the basic diploma. For most students, their released time slot had to be filled with credit-earning honors classes in order to earn the honors diplomas. LDS Inc protested the move, claiming hardship, but the superintendent did not budge, and the parents supported him.