A typograhical error in a story in yesterday's Washington Post reversed the meaning of a paragraph dealing with whether some assistants to Mayor Walter E. Washington would be retained in the new administration of Marion Barry. The story should have said that two GS-15 special assistants, Warren Graves and John H. Drof, would not be retained, according to sources.

The harsh reality of transition to a new mayoral administration dawned last week for almost three dozen members of Mayor Walter E. Washinton's office staff, about 10 of whom were notified that they will not be part of mayor-elect Marion Barry's staff.

Even those selected to kepp their middle and lower-level jobs when the administration changes in two weeks, had to sign papers ostensibly giving Barry, or any subsequent, mayor authority to remove them at will.

"You have been selected by the new administration," the memorandum from Personnel Director George R. Harrod read, "for continued employment in your present position in the office of the mayor."

"As a condition surrounding this selection, you will serve at the peasure of the mayor. If you are willing to accept continued employment . . . under this condition, please sign the statement provided below.

"If you are not willing to accept this offer, you will be provided with assistance in locating other employment in the D.C. government," the memorandum said.

Ivanhoe Donaldson, Barry's chief adviser, said the signed statements were an attempt to "create for the first time a clean slate" of personnel in the mayor's office.

"What Marion is doing is letting them know that they are coming in under the same conditions as anywhere else. They that their future in those particular capacities is related to the mayor," Donaldson said.

The papers created a stir Friday because some employes believed that by signing the documents, they were relinquishing civil service protection against removal without cause.

Harrod and Donaldson said, however, that those who had signed would retain their rights to be reinstated to jobs of comparable standing when they left their present posts.

A lawyer familiar with federal civil service regulations, under which most city employes now are covered, said the papers would have practicly no effect.

"You can't force people to waive their civil service rights," the lawyer said. "It seems as if they were giving up something for nothing. They're not getting anything. They're just remaining in a job they have a right to remain on anyway.

"An argument could be made that the waiver was coerced. Ti's almost like a forced resignation. It would have no legal effect," the lawyer said.

Issuance of the papers was the first indication of how the Barry administration plans to deal with one of its touchiest internal problems.

Although most of those signing the papers are middle-level workers, Harrod said the same approach is likely to be used with department heads.

During and after his campaign, Barry said he thinks that at least half a dozen department heads are incompetent, and he pledged to remove them and others he feels would better serve the city in different positions.

All of those people are protected by civil service regulations and could use lengthy proceedings to fight their removal. A newly passed city civil service bill would give Barry more latitude in removing department heads and others, but that bill will not take effect until early next spring.

Before his inauguration Jan. 2, Barry plans to select at least four new key department heads - housing director, corporation counsel, city administrator and budget director.

Incumbent housing director Lorenzo W, Jacobs Jr., has civil service protection against removal without cause. The other three positions are held by persons with an "acting" status who could not contest replacement.

More important are cases involving several other department heads whom Barry wants to remove but who have civil service protection. Among these persons, for example, is Julian R. Dugas, the director of the Office of Licenses, Inspections and Investigations and acting city administrator.

Barry and his advisers believe that unless they can remove these people and replace them with their own choices, the city government will unable properly to carry out the pledges and programs on which the mayor-elect campaigned. These cases are expected to be handled after the inauguration.

Neither Harrod nor Donaldson would disclose which of the more than 30 employes on the mayor's staff - including workers in the mayor's office, that of his executive secretary and several special assistants - would be retained.

Other sources said that the highest ranking of those to be retained are tow GS 15 special assistants - Warren Graves, a community services liaison for Mayor Washington and deputy manager of his ill-fated re-election campaign, and John H. Drof, one of the mayor's principal speech-writers. Executive Secretary Martin K. Schaller, the sources said, already has been told that he will be replaced.