Mark Arbeit, who has been with the Fairfax County school system for nine years, has been an assistant principal at Terraset Elementary School in Reston since last September. His employment record was stated incorrectly in a Metro article Saturday. (Published 6/23/87)

The assistant principal of a Reston elementary school has been suspended after officials learned that he was convicted five years ago on a morals charge involving a 15-year-old boy in Prince William County, a school spokesman said yesterday.

The conviction of Mark Arbeit, 33, came to light during a Fairfax County police investigation of charges by children at Terraset Elementary School that Arbeit made obscene phone calls to them, school spokesman Dolores Bohen said.

Bohen said school officials will seek to fire Arbeit, and are waiting for his reply to their letter notifying him of their intentions. Arbeit, who lives in Springfield, has an unlisted telephone number and could not be reached for comment yesterday.

The action against Arbeit, who has been assistant principal at Terraset nine years, raises anew questions about the school system's ability to screen its employes. School officials promised two years ago after a similar case that security would be improved, and hired a former police officer to lead the effort.

In that earlier case, school psychologist Arthur Pomerantz was convicted in Fairfax County Circuit Court of five counts of engaging in sex with teen-age boys. Pomerantz had been investigated on morals charges in 1981 by Prince William County police, who said they voiced their suspicions to Fairfax school officials. Fellow employes also complained that they had voiced suspicions about Pomerantz.

Arbeit was suspended from his job in late April after several children said he made obscene telephone calls to them, Bohen said.

Warren Carmichael, police spokesman, said Arbeit was charged with one count of making an obscene telephone call, but the charge was dropped after police and prosecutors agreed that the case would be better handled by the schools.

Bohen said police never notified the schools that they had decided to drop the charge. Carmichael said he was unaware of that.

Carmichael said Arbeit allegedly phoned the youths and offered them $25 to participate in a survey. Many of the questions were sexually oriented, according to the youths, he said.

The police investigation into the allegedly obscene calls did bring out that Arbeit had been convicted of a morals charge in Prince William County in 1982, Bohen said.

Arbeit pleaded guilty in Prince William General District Court to a charge of attempted production of obscene materials involving a minor, paid $35 in court costs and fines, was placed on probation and was ordered to undergo psychotherapy, according to court records.

The court records said Arbeit approached a 15-year-old boy on May 17, 1982, and offered him money to pose nude with a woman.