Three candidates in the race for the Ward 6 seat on the D.C. Board of Education squared-off against each other for the first time last night before an audience of about 100 members of the Peabody Elementary-Hobson Middle School Parent-Teachers Association.

The sharpest exchange of the evening followed an assertion by candidate Robert D. Boyd, a former PTA president, that a recent newsletter mailed to constituents by incumbent Ward 6 board member John E. Warren violated a city law that prohibits elected officials from sending out a mass mailing within 90 days of an election.

"All over this ward there is a tremendous impatience with the performance" of Warren, Boyd said. "There is a desire for a breath of fresh air."

Warren, seeking his fourth term on the board in the Nov. 8 election, responded to Boyd's charge by saying that Boyd had misread the law and that his newsletter was proper because it contained nothing blatantly political. He said that "demonstrated record of results" and experience should earn him reelection.

The third candidate, Charlotte Holmes, a budget analyst for the Small Business Administration, steered clear of criticizing her two opponents and told the audience at Peabody that her main priority on the board would be to establish "accountability" and to push the school board away from simply bringing in more computer hardware and to move pupils "back to the basics--how to read and write."

Warren won reelection in 1979 with 45 percent of the vote in a three-candidate field. Boyd is expected to be at his strongest in Capitol Hill neighborhoods similar to those that surround the 103-year-old Peabody building at 5th and C streets SE and Hobson, which now shares a building with another school at 12th and E streets SE.

The mother of one Hobson pupil asked Warren to recall that he once said he didn't owe Hobson anything because people there didn't vote for him. "If I placed emphasis on the votes I received from Hobson, I would never have done anything for Hobson in the past nine years," Warren snapped, saying he worked for the area despite not getting votes.