Austin school Trustee Yasmin Wagner misused city resources, audit finds

A city of Austin investigation by the auditor’s office released Thursday found that Austin school board member Yasmin Wagner misused city resources to do work for the school board.

Wagner is a manager in the city’s public information and communications office. The school board appointed her to a vacant spot on the board in September 2015 and she was elected to her first term in November.

The investigation arose from a February complaint against Wagner alleging that she misused city resources to undertake work for the school board on city time. The chief findings in the investigation were that Wagner had used her city computer to conduct business for the school board.

Investigators found at least 40 files on the city computer related to the school board, including her application for appointment, drafts of a speech she prepared for her swearing-in and items related to the school district’s budget. Her browser history also showed that she visited school board related website at least 370 times, the investigation states.

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In her response to the investigation, Wagner said that she often works up to 16 hour days juggling her roles as a city employee and school board member.

“I have never abused my time commitment to the city but have at times worked some unconventional hours with the approval of my management and as an exempt employee to be able to address all of my city responsibilities,” Wagner said.

The city hired Wagner in January 2015. Her annual salary is $92,414, according to the city.

When Wagner became a member of the Austin school board, she was warned against using city equipment or resources for any work related to the board or campaigning. However, she admitted to using a city printer at least 30 times to print school board documents, the investigation said.

She also told investigators that when she used her city computer for board business, it was during her lunch breaks and outside of her regular work hours, the investigation said.

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In an Oct. 11 memo to the auditor’s office, Doug Matthews, the head of the communications and public information office, said he would address the investigation’s findings with Wagner.

“I do feel that Ms. Wagner has made good faith efforts to maintain that separation in terms of her time and attendance; however it is clear that we must reiterate that the requirements and policies apply equally to the use of City technology and resources,” Matthews said in the memo.

In her response, Wagner said she has notified the city when her professional and school board responsibilities intersect and that she has abstained from any school board decision connected to city business.

“As stated in the report, my work as an AISD trustee is not compensated and it also reflects the City’s encouragement of employee volunteerism in neighborhood schools,” Wagner said. “My trustee role is a volunteer position that comes with a great deal of responsibility to stay on top of critical issues which can at times be unexpected.”

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