HARRISBURG – Harrisburg-based Independence Law Center was in Commonwealth Court defending Joy El Ministries in a case involving government mandates that are hindering the ministry’s ability to operate a “released time” program. In PA, as in many other states, there is a law allowing for “released time” for public school students to receive religious instruction outside of school during the school day. Chief Counsel for the Independence Law Center, Randall Wenger presented the arguments in the case. Wenger said, “For decades, the PA State Police and PennDOT recognized that groups like Joy El Ministries may provide bus transportation for students to attend “released time” programs — only so long as they didn’t call their buses “school buses” or include equipment like flashing lights. But suddenly they reversed course, grounding many of their buses and drivers for not complying with the heightened standards only necessary for picking up and dropping off children along roadways – something Joy El does not do. Not only are they applying irrelevant, inapplicable laws, but the State Police have gone so far as to interfere with a school releasing their students for this released time program. Wenger added his client operates a wonderful ministry, and sadly, this case has been dragging on for years. After court arguments, Wenger is hopeful for a good outcome.