Thursday, April 2, 2015

PA Dept. of Ed on Religious Opt Out

See below for the email that went out to all Pennsylvania school districts on April 2, 2015 regarding the Religious Opt Out provision.  This confirms that parents DO NOT need to specify or explain their religious beliefs when opting out.  

See page 4, question 10 of the link provided in the below email (Penn*Link).  It says (emphasis added):
10. How does an LEA determine if a letter submitted by a parent meets the requirements in Chapter 4 to qualify for a religious opt-out? 
If after reviewing the state assessment a parent provides the school with a written request that states a religious objection to the superintendent, CEO, or AVTS Director, the child(ren) should be excused from the state assessment. So, as long as a parent or guardian reviews the state assessment and provides a written statement providing his/her written objection for religious purposes (however vague that objection may be), the child must be excused from the assessment. PDE will not provide an opinion as to what is a proper religious objection.
Chapter 4 Reference: 22 Pa. Code 4.4(d)(4) 

Subject: PENN*LINK - Religious Opt-out provision of Chapter 4
April 2, 2015 at 2:39:02 PM EDT
To: "" <>

Pennsylvania Department of Education
Office of Elementary Education
April 2, 2015

To: All LEAs

From:  Matthew Stem, Acting Deputy Secretary
Office of Elementary and Secondary Education

Subject: Religious Opt-out provision of Chapter 4

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) would like to remind all LEAs of the existing regulation regarding opting a child out of participation in the PSSA or Keystone Exams based upon a religious objection.  Chapter 4 states that "School entities should adopt policies to ensure that parents or guardians have . . . the right to review a state assessment in the school entity during convenient hours for parents and guardians at least 2 weeks prior to their administration, to determine whether a State assessment conflicts with their religious belief.  . . . If upon inspection of a State assessment parents or guardians find the assessment to be in conflict with their religious belief and wish their students to be excused from the assessment, the right of the parents or guardians will not be denied upon written request that states the objection to the applicable school district superintendent, charter school chief executive officer or AVTS director."  22 Pa. Code 4.4(d)(4).

For additional clarification, please see the Chapter 4 Guidance, Frequently Asked Questions posted at

If you have any questions concerning this provision, please contact John Weiss at PDE at (717) 214 - 4394

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