This story was originally published on March 26, 2021

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Twin Cities School District says it believes more work needs to be done after a student went public showing racially insensitive text messages. Centennial High School student Elaina Yang says she got the messages in a group text from other students. The school is investigating.

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Nestled on the outskirts of the cities, Centennial High School sits in the Circle Pines area. There, Yang says she’s had some painful experiences.

“It’s been going on so long it’s normalized and I’m just used to hearing it all the time,” she said.

She says she has been called racially insensitive words for years, and recently got a barrage of hurtful words in a group text message with classmates.

“They were just telling me that I’m useless and that I’m gonna fail school and my dad should go back to Hong Kong and the whole family can go with it,” she said.

Anna Yang, Elaina’s mother, says her heart was broken when she saw the messages

“Absolutely disgusting, heartbreaking,” she said.

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Elaina Yang decided to go public on Instagram, sharing the piercing words with the world. She says she spoke out “to show people racism and bullying is real and to show people that people do get away with it.”

A recent alumni told us she was also victim to harsh words too. Desi Hennagir, a 2019 graduate, told WCCO, “I am very very upset about it.”

Hennagir is helping to organize a school walkout Monday.

Anna Yang says the school district, ISD12, has been very responsive and supportive. The district sent this statement to WCCO:

“Earlier this week, an incident involving racist and derogatory comments at Centennial High School was reported. An investigation was conducted and appropriate, disciplinary action is being taken. Due to student privacy rights, those details cannot be released. The Centennial School District condemns all types of hatred and racism and will take appropriate action with any situation.

“Through our equity efforts, we have worked in partnership with our stakeholders to make a better environment for all of our students. We recognize there are still issues, and we are committed to partner with our stakeholders and the community on a plan to ensure these issues are addressed.”

The district says an investigation was conducted and appropriate disciplinary action is being taken. Elaina Yang says what she hopes comes from this is “just to make people feel safe.”

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The school walkout is planned for Monday at 9:45 am.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield