Originally created 01/14/02

A costly cigarette break



Two days after his 18th birthday made him a legal smoker, Ilya Shchegolev lit up in a bus shelter just off the grounds of his high school in Rochester, Minn.

In the chain of events that resulted from his smoke, Shchegolev was suspended from school, missed participating in his class graduation ceremony and was charged with a weapons possession felony.

But he won a court victory late last month when a judge, calling it a case without precedent, suggested that schools cannot enforce rules prohibiting legal behavior outside of school property.

Here's what happened:

After school last March 6, a teacher found Shchegolev smoking in the bus shelter, which is outside John Marshall High School but within the school's multiblock "no smoking" area.

The teacher told Shchegolev to put out the cigarette. He refused and the situation escalated after a knife was found in his pants pocket. He was suspended and, nearly five months later, was charged with possession of a dangerous weapon on school property.

In throwing the case out of court, Olmsted County District Judge Joseph Wieners ruled that the school had no right to force Shchegolev to return to the school or to search him.