How Did Candidate’s Kids Get Into Penn Alexander?

Claim may undermine Kevin Johnson's "outsider" status.

The Daily News reports that likely mayoral candidate Kevin Johnson’s children attend West Philly’s prestigious Penn Alexander School. The problem? Classroom slots are supposed to be open only to residents of the school’s catchment area — and the Johnson family lives four miles from the nearest boundary from the school.

Johnson was close with former Superintendent Arlene Ackerman, a member and trustee of his North Philly church. When she died last February, Ackerman’s sons asked Johnson to deliver the eulogy at her funeral in Albuquerque, N.M. The pastor also eulogized her at a local memorial service.

In years past, district honchos were given discretion to make admission exceptions for “an extenuating circumstance . . . that’s for the well-being and safety of the child,” said district spokesman Fernando Gallard, who stressed that he did not know the specifics of the Johnson case. “It clearly looks like superintendents in the past used the exception for students to enter Penn Alexander.”

Among them, sources say, is the grandson of former Philadelphia Police Commissioner Sylvester Johnson. That boy, and two of his siblings who graduated from Penn Alexander, live on the same block as the pastor’s family. Their father, FBI agent Mark A. Johnson, did not respond to requests for comment.

The Daily News says Johnson declined to explain how his kids gained admission.