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Advocate file photo by LESLIE WESTBROOK

Echoing earlier studies, a report issued Monday says black students in Louisiana public schools are twice as likely as white students to face suspensions.

The review said the trends cross district lines and that both black and low-income students face longer suspensions than their peers for the same types of infractions.

"For fights involving one white student and one black student, black students receive slightly longer suspensions than white students," according to the report.

"The difference is about one additional suspension day for every 20 fights," it says. "This disparity is evident even after accounting for students' prior discipline records, background characteristics and school attended."

The study was done by the Education Research Alliance for New Orleans.

The group, which is based at Tulane University, specializes in reports on public school changes in New Orleans since Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005.

However, the latest study focused on discipline policies statewide.

The report stopped short of assigning blame for the disparities.

Nathan Barrett, associate director of the alliance and one of the authors of the report, said coming up with a "why" in any research is always the tough part.

Barrett said some reviews blame schools for similar gaps in suspensions while others blame students.

"We don't believe that black students and white students have the same environment outside the school," he said.

"I was in schools, there were some bad kids," Barrett added. "But I guarantee you that a lot of that is because of the environment outside the school."

The review echoes a state report that sparked controversy in 2016.

That review, which was done by the state Department of Education, said Louisiana's overall suspension rate for public schools is top-heavy with black students.

It said about two thirds of the students suspended in 2015-16 were black students – 41,103 compared to 16,831 white students.

The report was presented to a 24-member state panel reviewing state discipline policies, which is still working. It stemmed from legislation sponsored by state Sen. Jack Donahue, R-Mandeville.

The Tulane study said state figures reflect national trends.

The U.S. Department of Education said that, in the 2013-14 school year, 18 percent of black boys and 10 percent of black girls received out-of-school suspensions. Meanwhile, 5 percent of white boys and 2 percent of white girls got similar punishments, according to the federal review.

The Tulane study is based on data from the state Department of Education.

The findings covered school years 2000-01 to 2013-14 and the review included more than one million disciplinary incidents.

The review said low-income students are 1.75 times as likely to be suspended as students from families with higher incomes.

The four authors of the report represent Tulane, the RAND Corporation, the University of Arkansas and the Brookings Institution.

The advisory board of the Education Research Alliance includes officials of a wide range of public school groups, including the Louisiana Federation of Teachers and the Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools.

Follow Will Sentell on Twitter, @WillSentell.