Former English teacher from Neale-Wade put on sex offenders register after admitting to downloading indecent images of children
- Credit: Archant
An investigation by the Cambs Times has revealed that Neale-Wade Academy decided not to reveal a popular and charismatic English teacher had been convicted for possessing indecent images of children.
The college opted not to tell students, staff, parents or even most governors that an English teacher appeared at Cambridge Crown Court last July when he was also placed on the sex offenders register for 10 years.
David Kurt Pomarenski, 36, admitted the offence and was given an eight-month prison sentence, suspended for two years.
He had been suspended following his arrest and resigned ahead of the court appearance.
His sudden disappearance from the school only came to light after a whistleblower contacted me to reveal details of the case which had quietly slipped through the crown court.
“In this day and age, with all the stories that have come out about irresponsible institutions failing to protect children, it astounds me that Neale-Wade seems to have done nothing,” the whistleblower said.
“I feel so awful about the whole thing and I can’t understand why no-one has done anything about this.
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“I’m not looking for a witch hunt of the offender, although the thought of him makes me sick; rather I’m just so angry at the school.”
Pomarenski’s ‘secret’ came to light in autumn 2013 when his wife asked to borrow his computer at their home after her own computer developed a fault.
Whilst scrolling through her husband’s computer she discovered folders containing hundreds of images that shook her to the core.
She reported her findings to police, her husband was arrested and she fled the family home.
In November 2013 Pomarenski was suspended from Neale-Wade – where he had taught since 2003 – and resigned ahead of the court case. He pleaded guilty.
Principal Jason Wing said the school had followed procedures although only a small group of governors were told about the case.
Councillor Andrew Pugh, the present chairman of governors, only found out about the incident this week.
On Wednesday evening, he chaired a governors meeting to discuss the issue. Mr Wing cancelled other appointments to also be there.
Although an academy is outside much of the jurisdiction of Cambridgeshire County Council, Neale-Wade contacted the authority’s senior press officer for guidance.
On Wednesday afternoon press officer Simon Cobby issued a statement on behalf of the Active Learning Trust, the organisation that runs Neale-Wade.
The statement quoted Clive Bush, chief executive of Active Learning Trust, who said he was “entirely satisfied that Jason Wing followed all the correct procedures and made the right decisions in this case”.
Mr Bush said: “The offences took place off school premises, using a personal computer, and did not involve any past or present students of Neale-Wade Academy.
“Furthermore, Mr Pomarenski had resigned before the court case began and was no longer a member of staff. He did not return to the school site once we were informed about the accusation.
“All the correct safer recruitment procedures were followed when Mr Pomarenski was appointed. Neale-Wade updates its child protection procedures every two years and has a robust and efficient system for enabling students to make disclosures in complete confidentiality.
“Moreover, police advice was followed at all times. I am therefore satisfied that there has been no risk of harm to students at the academy.”
Cambridgeshire Police were not able to confirm what ‘advice’ they offered the school but did confirm the sentence passed on Pomarenski.
The whistleblower said students and parents would be angry that they had not been able to form a judgement for themselves.
“He was a young and popular teacher,” the whistleblower said. “Pomarenski used to brag about the extra money he earned (from the school) by having 1-1 tutoring sessions with the students. Just a few weeks ago on the ‘rate my teacher’ website, a student asks where he is and says they miss him.”
The whistleblower said: “The courts have dealt with him in regards to the images on his home computer but I’ve been waiting since July of last year to hear whether there’s been a further investigation at the school.
“The police haven’t said anything and the school haven’t said anything. Given the access this man had, I find it astounding that parents weren’t told what has happened and were given the opportunity to talk to their kids in their own way.
“I waited until about last October to see if the school would make any statement, but there’s been silence.”
The whistleblower said: “The whole thing makes me feel sick and mostly I don’t want to think about it.
“Until I was chatting to a friend of mine last week who was abused herself and it made me so angry that the school don’t seem to care that there’s a chance there are other victims of this man out there, but for the sake of their reputation (I can only guess), they’re just covering up that anything happened”.
On the ‘rate my teacher’ website there are three entries for the disgraced teacher.
The earliest was in 2008 when a student described him as “a legend. He is sooooo funny and his way of teaching is brilliant. He is really laid back and yet he can still control the class, even though sometimes he just rambles on and doesn’t know what to say, but that just makes him who he is/”
In 2011 another said “he was my English teacher in year 7 and is my favourite teacher.”
But in February of this year another wrote: “Where are you? You’ve literally disappeared. We miss you.”