In violation of a state directive, former Oklahoma Schools Superintendent Sandy Garrett ordered that her e-mail account be deleted shortly before she left office, two state records custodians told The Associated Press on Friday.
The deletion violated a state directive and cost researchers access to significant historical records of a longtime officeholder.
After the AP asked to see Garrett’s recent correspondence, the Oklahoma Department of Education said the records no longer existed and disclosed that Garrett communicated with her staff through her private e-mail accounts in her last month on the job.
The Office of Archives and Records told the AP that substantive correspondence from Oklahoma department heads should never be erased. Garrett, who left office Jan. 10, was state schools superintendent for two decades.
It wasn’t clear whether she knew that deleting her account would wipe out her correspondence. Political observers and pundits are asking how uneducated would a state superintendent of education have to be to NOT know that basic computer e-mail fundamental?
Most who know her, hold her in much higher regard. Garrett did not return messages Friday.
Throughout Oklahoma’s government, when most employees leave a state job their e-mail is retained for a time because of the potential need to access their correspondence. The contents are retained until the archives office grants permission for deletion. In Garrett’s case, no one consulted the office before wiping the account clean, said Archives and Records spokesman Bill Young.