21 F-bombs: New audio reveals extent of hostility, profanity, in St. Joseph, Missouri school board member’s attacks on colleagues

(The Heartlander) – New audio for the first time exposes the naked ferocity of a profanity-laced verbal assault by a St. Joseph, Missouri school board member on a colleague, for which she is…

(The Heartlander) – New audio for the first time exposes the naked ferocity of a profanity-laced verbal assault by a St. Joseph, Missouri school board member on a colleague, for which she is facing criminal charges.

The first video of the incident that includes audio, obtained by The Heartlander, displays the full fury of board member Whitney Lanning’s unhinged tirade while following fellow board member Isaura Garcia through various halls and rooms after a board meeting Feb. 26.

The video appears to have authentically combined silent surveillance footage with a recording of the incident. In it, Lanning can be heard spewing 21 “F” words and their variants in the span of a minute, as well as five other profanities, which she aims at Garcia and several other board members.

WARNING: NSFW video – explicit language

After calmly but pointedly asking Garcia why she mentioned Lanning’s daughter in a prior meeting — though Lanning later acknowledged in an April 3 meeting that no name was ever used — Lanning’s profane rant quickly escalates to include alleged threats.

“What did you want to say about my daughter?” Lanning repeats with moderate anger. Instantly upping the volume, Lanning adds, “What did you want to say about my f*****g daughter?

“What did you want to f*****g say? Turn your f*****g a** around! You have something to f*****g say about my kid?

“I f*****g swear to God … I will f**k you up!

“You think you get to say whatever the f**k you want? Not about somebody’s f*****g kids you don’t, you sack of s**t!”

At that point, another board member, Kim Miller, comes into view and draws Lanning’s vehement screaming, as does a male board colleague, David Foster, who appears to have been walking with Garcia all along to protect her from Lanning.

“About my f*****g kid, Kim Miller? F**k you! F**k you! F**k both of you! All three of you f*****g spineless pieces of s**t, go f**k yourself! F**k yourself!

“You say a f*****g word about my f*****g kid again, I will f*****g (inaudible threat).”

At one point during her walking barrage, Lanning throws personal items in Garcia’s direction. The items missed Garcia and smacked against the wall. As the other three board members exit the building – with Foster appearing to continue his safety escort out to the women’s cars – Lanning hurls a few more f-bombs as parting shots.

A police report alleges Foster “had to intervene between Whitney R. Lanning and the victim due to his belief that Whitney R. Lanning was going to physically assault the victim. Whitney R. Lanning threw her property against a wall while screaming threats and profanities at the victim.”

Lanning – an imposing 6-4 former basketball player at Oklahoma State University who stands at least a head above her colleagues – pleaded not guilty earlier this month to second-degree harassment, the most serious type of misdemeanor in Missouri, which is punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and a year in jail.

Lanning is executive director of Community Action Partnership of Greater St. Joseph (CAPSTJOE), a nonprofit that has a contract with the school district to run its Head Start programming.

An earlier news story reports Lanning was fined for delinquent property taxes – which go to the very school district she claims is underfunded.

Lanning, whose term expires next year, has not yielded to calls for her resignation. A recall petition started last November garnered some 500 signatures but does not appear to have been successful.

Lanning didn’t express remorse in a statement to the St. Joseph News-Press, and in fact denied there was even an argument.

“This was not a disagreement over school-related issues, in fact, it wasn’t a disagreement at all,” she wrote the newspaper in an email. “My child was attacked in an effort to discredit district staff. As a mother I’ll always defend my child, and all children for that matter.”

However, Miller and Foster both condemned Lanning’s actions in statements to the media.

“Isaura said nothing offensive and never raised her voice, but Whitney began cussing and threatening Isaura,” Miller wrote the newspaper. “I witnessed the diatribe of vile words and threats Whitney made against Isaura as she followed and pushed against David to get to Isaura, as they tried to leave the building …”

Foster said the incident was “unmatched to anything I’ve seen in three years of serving on the board. It is unfortunate that we still have individuals that try to justify multiple accounts of bully behavior and fail to take full responsibility for their actions.”

“This behavior is unacceptable,” Garcia herself has said about Lanning’s berating of her. “As a public servant, I can no longer sit idly by while a member of the board of education attacks, verbally abuses and bullies other board members, district employees and members of the public.”

“Whitney Lanning’s behavior and language is disturbing,” state Sen. Rusty Black, who represents the St. Joseph area, wrote in a statement to The Heartlander. “As a former educator and current senator of the 12th District, I am regularly approached by many expressing their concerns. Our leaders need to set an example of the correct way to deal with disappointment and conflict.

“Ms. Lanning serves in multiple areas of leadership and has failed to display good judgment and behavior. She doesn’t represent our values and should remove herself or be removed from the position of leadership, both on the St. Joseph School Board and at CAPSTJOE.”

Associate DeKalb County Commissioner Kyle White, whose county is served by Lanning’s nonprofit, said, “Federal, state and county officials that are involved with CAPSTJOE need to be aware of the character of leadership at the organization and request the immediate resignation of Ms. Lanning from the organization.”

The Heartlander reached out to a handful of CAPSTJOE’s board of directors seeking comment and asking whether they will continue to stand by their $110,000-a-year executive director.

Only one responded as of publication: LaTonya Williams, CAPSTJOE board treasurer as well as president of Lanning’s school board, politely declined comment due to The Heartlander’s publication of a story about them earlier this month. The story raises conflict of interest questions regarding Williams and Lanning being in positions of influence on both boards, especially when CAPSTJOE receives grant money from the school district.

The Heartlander also reached out to Lanning to ask her if she denies saying those things; whether she thinks a school board member or nonprofit director should be saying such things to colleagues; and how she explains the profanity and yelling if it “wasn’t a disagreement at all.”

Lanning responded with an email questioning The Heartlander’s integrity, including ironically “respect for others.”

She also questioned how The Heartlander obtained the audio of her torrent, noting that “it’s illegal to record closed session meetings of the BOE without prior approval of the BOE.” The Heartlander assured her the recording was made outside of any meeting. But her warning about recording closed sessions raises the question of whether there were similar verbal attacks by her behind closed doors.