Richard L. Claypoole, a federal administrator who lives in Silver Spring, won a close vote of the Montgomery County Board of Education last night to replace Elizabeth Spencer, the board member who resigned recently to run for Congress.

Claypoole's election after eight ballots during a special school board session in which the board also discussed alternatives for dealing with the state Board of Education's recent reversal of local board decisions, was a victory for the local board's conservative majority.

Claypoole, 37, is special assistant to the director of the Federal Register and served as chief editor of the public papers of President Ford in 1976 and 1977. He got the necessary four votes from board members Marian Greenblatt and Joseph Barse, Board President Eleanor Zappone and Vice President Suzanne Peyser.

The only other person to get as many as three votes was Kenneth R. Greenberg, an associate professor of education at the University of Maryland.

Board member Blair Ewing and nonvoting student member Kurt Hirsch had urged selection of someone who holds moderate-to-liberal views similar to Spencer's.

Ewing said election of someone with different views "will not be unusual, but it is deplorable and that is usual and normal for this board." He supported Austin Heyman, deputy director of the Agency for International Development, as someone whose views were similar to those of Spencer.

School board candidate Marilyn Praisner, who along with 45 others applied for the board vacancy last week, dropped out last night, claiming that "the board members are not interested in replacing Mrs. Spencer but are intent on appointing someone who will echo them."

Zappone disagreed about the necessity of selecting someone similar to Spencer. "It is very much up to the discretion of those selecting the replacement . . . . I don't think it is necessary to select a replica of Mrs. Spencer."

Zappone added that Claypoole made an excellent choice because he served on the advisory committee for Montgomery Blair High School and has background on "issues that will immediately concern us."

Claypoole announced that "I am ready to get to work" and was sworn in, taking his seat as the seven-member panel turned to discussion of the state school board's reversal of the controversial decisions to close Rosemary Hills Elementary and change the attendance boundaries of Blair High and Eastern Intermediate schools.

Spencer resigned to seek the Republican nomination to the congressional seat held by Democrat Michael D. Barnes. Also seeking the GOP nomination in the Sept. 14 primary is board member Greenblatt, who decided against stepping down during the campaign.

Claypoole will complete Spencer's term, which expires Dec. 1, and is not seeking election to a full term on the board this fall. He served with the U.S. Army in Vietnam, is president of the Long Branch civic association and is a graduate of Northwood High School and the University of Maryland.

The board decided July 14 to appeal state board reversals in the county's Circuit Court. At the same time, the board directed Superintendent Andrews to develop interim plans for Blair, Eastern and Rosemary Hills.

Andrews' plans, discussed last night, involve closing Rollingwood Elementary instead of Rosemary Hills and restoring the pairing arrangement of Rosemary Hills and Chevy Chase Elementary. Andrews also recommended sending pupils from three predominantly white elementary schools to Eastern Intermediate and Blair High.

The board also voted to consider two plans submitted by board member Barse. The first would close North Chevy Chase Elementary and shift its pupils to Rosemary Hills. Barse offered an alternative under which both Rollingwood and North Chevy Chase would be closed and sending students from the Larchmont area to Rosemary Hills. The board also will consider sending pupils from the consolidated Woodlin-Woodside Elementary to Eastern and Blair.

A public hearing on these proposals will be held at 7:30 p.m. next Tuesday, and the board plans to make a decision the following night.