School board member Lanning delinquent on taxes that go to St. Joe public schools

A school board member in St. Joseph, Missouri, who already faces second-degree harassment charges, has refused to comment after she was fined for slow-paying property taxes that fund the school…

A school board member in St. Joseph, Missouri, who already faces second-degree harassment charges, has refused to comment after she was fined for slow-paying property taxes that fund the school district she suggests is underfunded.

Whitney Lanning, who works as executive director at Community Action Partnership of Greater St. Joseph (CAPSTJOE), also supported the local school tax increase on the upcoming April election ballot.

Screenshots from the Buchanan County Tax Collector website show Lanning was billed $1,081.33 for property taxes in 2023. She eventually paid a 13.4% fine for slow payment, or an additional $144.46, for a total of $1,229.79.

The Tax Collector site shows that $715.94, or 66% of the property tax levy, goes to support the St. Joseph School District. 

When contacted by The Lion for comment, Lanning asked if other members of the school board would have their tax information shared in the story. 

Shortly after Lanning was told on the phone that The Lion would consider information provided about other school board members, an email from an anonymous source was received. 

That email contained screenshots from the Tax Collector website about three other board members – Richard Gehring, David Foster and Isaura Garcia – who also late-paid property taxes, with fines ranging from $49-$108. 

When pressed for a comment on why her taxes were late when she voted to put a tax increase on the ballot, Lanning said she’d have to talk to her attorney first, but otherwise refused comment. 

Lanning later sent an email saying that she consulted with her attorney and was unable to comment. 

The Lion previously reported that Lanning allegedly used profane language and threatened to assault Garcia on Feb. 26, after the St. Joseph School Board rejected moving to a four-day school week favored by Lanning. The vote was 4-3. 

As a result, Buchanan County Prosecutor Michelle Davidson charged Lanning with harassment, a second-degree misdemeanor, based on the police probable cause statement. 

Second-degree harassment is a Class A misdemeanor, the most serious type of misdemeanor in Missouri, punishable by a fine up to $2,000 and a year in jail. 

In the wake of the misdemeanor charges, a number of Missouri leaders criticized Lanning and called for her to either resign or be removed from her job at CAPSTJOE, an organization that is mostly funded by taxpayers. 

“Whitney Lanning is a tax-and-spend liberal who is quick to reach into the pockets of St. Joe residents, but when it’s time for her to pay taxes, she’s nowhere to be found,” Spencer Bone, executive director of Liberty Alliance USA, told The Lion. “She was delinquent on her taxes, she committed a violent crime against her fellow board member at a district meeting, and her board decided to keep a drunk driver as Superintendent.” 

“Lanning is a disaster and should resign. St. Joseph deserves better,” he concluded. 

“I understand innocent until proven guilty, but multiple concerns regarding Lanning from various situations is more than troubling,” wrote Associate DeKalb County Commissioner Kyle White. “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.” 

Missouri state Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer, who represents Buchanan County in the state Senate, also called on Lanning to resign or be removed from her position at CAPSTJOE. 

“These criminal charges against @StJosephSchools Board member Whitney Lanning are disturbing and serious. She should immediately resign her position as executive director of  

@CAPStJoe or be removed by its board,” Luetkemeyer posted on X. He also called for her resignation from the school board in another post. 

Lanning was elected in April 2023 in a low-turnout election, getting just 17.71% of the votes and edging out third-place candidate Jennifer Kerns by 39 votes. 

With two seats up for election, the top-two vote-getters were tabbed in an eight-person race, which saw turn-out at 12.6% in 2023.