Following an audit that desclosed apparent violations of federal rules, the U.S. Office of Education has ordered the District of Columbia school system to pay back $600,000 in remedial education funds, a city school official confirmed yesterday.

Edward G. Winner, the deputy school superintendent who confirmed word of the U.S. order, said the alleged violations were highly technical and will be contested at a hearing that has been granted by the Office of Education's own appeal's board.

Winnner said school system was accused of the failing to spend the money within a time limit set by law, although it ultimately was spent. The audit did not allege many improper use of the money, Winner said.

The money was allocated to the District of Columbia Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act that provides aid for supplemental instruction for poor children having trouble with studies. The District of Columbia received $15.9 million in such funds this fiscal year.

Winner said the alleged violations occured cumulatively between 1973 and 1975 and were uncovered in an audit dealing with fiscal years 1973 through 1977. In contesting the audit's findings, Winner said, "We did not take issue with what year -- we took issue with the [allegations of improper] accounting procedure. It's all highly technical."

Federal law requires that grant money must be spent either in the year it is allocated or in the following year. Winner said the money was spent according to the rules, and that federal aditors did not understand the city's accounting procedure.