Arrow-right Camera
The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Embattled Spokane Regional Health District administrator Amelia Clark leaving in September

Health District Administrator Amelia Clark, left, is seen in this March 2020 photo during a news conference with then-Health Officer Bob Lutz concerning the COVID-19 outbreak. Clark’s handling of Lutz’s dismissal as health officer will not get a hearing before the state Board of Health next month, as she and the state have agreed she will not seek future employment as the administrator.  (JESSE TINSLEY/THE SPOKESMAN-REVIEW)

The embattled administrator of the Spokane Regional Health District will finish her time with the agency in September.

Amelia Clark will leave the position she’s held since 2019 when her three-year contract expires Sept. 16, the district confirmed in a statement Wednesday afternoon. The statement indicates Clark will leave the job for “a new position out of state.”

Kevin Freeman, Spokane Board of Health member, said Clark notified officials Tuesday of her decision not to seek an extension of her contract.

“She’s not resigning, and has not been asked to resign,” Freeman said.

Clark’s handling of the ouster of former Health Official Dr. Bob Lutz remains under review by the state Board of Health. Lutz has filed a lawsuit in which he alleges he was forced out because of political disagreements with members of the health board during the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The lawsuit alleges Lutz was fired in violation of state public meeting laws.

The conflict culminated in a November 2020 local health board meeting in which the panel voted 8-4 to terminate Lutz’s employment. The episode prompted changes by the state Legislature in the composition of local health boards, leading Spokane County commissioners to reduce membership on the panel.

The handling of the incident led to a complaint to the state Board of Health. A preliminary report found that Lutz had been fired before he’d received a legally required hearing to defend himself, a conclusion some board members disputed.

The Board of Health later unanimously decided to hold a hearing to determine whether Clark violated state law. That hearing has been postponed several times. The current scheduled date for a hearing is Sept. 19, three days after Clark’s planned departure from the Regional Health District.

Freeman and other members of the local board have defended Clark’s leadership of the district, even as a former employee publicly called for her firing last summer over the termination of Lutz.

Spokane County Commissioner Mary Kuney, chair of the local health board, said in a statement Wednesday that Clark would be missed.

“Her accomplishments while at the helm of SRHD have resulted in a health district that is managed efficiently, addresses security concerns, is fiscally responsible and transparent, all while continuing to keep our community’s health and safety a priority,” Kuney said.

The local health board will begin developing a recruitment and transition plan for the job at its next meeting, scheduled for June 30, according to the statement.

Clark’s contract, signed in August 2019, paid her an annual salary of $140,000.