In addition to the 12-step program, previous volunteer activities and letters of recommendation, Gianfrocco had gone to Washington, D.C., to address members of Congress about drug program funding as part of Brown University Center for the Study of Children at Risk Vulnerable Infants Program. She is also taking classes toward becoming a licensed drug counselor. "I'm trying to give back what was given to me," she said.
But after her hearing in October 2009, the Cranston School Committee, according to court documents, said it could "do nothing" about her appeal or the Cranston School Department's denial. The Cranston school superintendent, according to the documents, told her that the department was "going back to the drawing board with the policy." Then, at the suggestion of a Cranston School Committee member, Gianfrocco withdrew her application in November 2009.
Since that date, the Cranston School Department policy regarding volunteers has remained the same.
Although Gianfrocco can serve as correspondence coordinator for the Parent Teacher Organization and is still on the parent's advisory committee, she stands on the sidelines at school events.
"I can help out, I can donate supplies," she said, but "if I threw away a bag of garbage, that would be considered volunteering.
"I would love to chaperone a field trip," she said, citing pumpkin picking and a visit to a farm as events she'd missed out on.
"I remember my mother doing that when I was young. My daughter says a lot of times the teachers will say, 'Get your parents to volunteer, we need chaperones. I tell her my job won't let me take time off. I have to lie. I'm not going to bring up that subject with her. She's too young."
Regarding the ACLU lawsuit, Gianfrocco said, "I just want to be able to open the barriers. Right now, if you have a felony, you're disqualified."
She said she believes the school system does need a policy regarding those with criminal records.
"I don't want a child molester in the school with my daughter either, but they need some type of discretion."
The Cranston School Department said it can't yet comment on the case. "We can't talk about it, because we haven't been served yet," said Gail Macera, executive assistant to the superintendent.