One of the facts of life in the D.C. school system is that some principals and administrators are not comfortable sharing power, even information, with parents. It's a habit Superintendent Andrew E. Jenkins has vowed to erase.

This spring, he created a team of parent organizers whose job was to build unprecedented parental activism in schools. He agreed to pay team members $7.50 an hour, then he spent weeks training them. Now, it's all in jeopardy.

For as soon as the group began working, it encountered a wave of mistrust and criticism from the union that represents the District's principals.

"No question about it," said Frank Bolden, president of the Council of School Officers, Local 4. "Our principals are up in arms."

Instead of embracing the parent team, some principals are deriding its tactics as unnecessary, or as politically motivated. The man Jenkins appointed to lead the parent team, Solomon Majid, has been their prime target for criticism.

Jenkins has billed the $60,000 project as a great strategy to cure the serious problem of parental apathy in D.C. schools. He and Bolden met recently to discuss principals' concerns, but suspicions linger.

"It makes it very difficult for principals to do their work when there are people from the outside coming in with surveys and other plans," Bolden said. "And some of them could be using it only for their own political agenda."

Some school system officials have predicted that the project would stir controversy. Parents being paid by the system to arouse other parents, they said, inevitably would be forced to challenge the system. Yet no one figured that clash would occur at the starting line. Kinlow's Frustration

The D.C. school board is losing another longtime member. Eugene Kinlow, first elected in 1979 to a citywide seat on the board, is calling it quits.

Kinlow is regarded by many parent activists and school officials as the board's conscience, and one of its hardest-working members. Thus, the reasons he gives for his exit are not all that surprising.

He says he's fed up and won't try to win votes again by sugar-coating school system inefficiency. "I just couldn't stomach it," Kinlow said. "Things in the school system are not getting any better."

Kinlow said the school system is "stagnant," that many of its leaders refuse to admit there are widespread problems and that the growing interest of business and civic groups in D.C. schools will be pointless unless those inside the system clean up their act.

"The community has to become better acquainted with the state of affairs in the school system; then they might demand more," he said.

Kinlow, 50, is a deputy secretary for personnel in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. In 1988, he was one of five board members who argued vigorously against hiring Jenkins as superintendent. Jenkins was chosen by a 6 to 5 vote. During the debate, Kinlow abruptly left a board meeting in protest, saying members were ignoring rules in the selection of Jenkins.

Kinlow would not say what he plans to do after he leaves the board, but suggested that he will continue to be a vocal watchdog of the school system -- one not constrained by board etiquette and rules.

His departure means at least two board seats will be filled by newcomers in November. Linda Cropp (Ward 4), another longtime board member, is running for an at-large seat on the D.C. Council and will not seek reelection to the board.

The race for Kinlow's seat is wide open. Those running, or likely to run, include Shawn X Brakeen, a Nation of Islam member and a teacher in D.C. schools; Bettie Benjamin, a former school board member who is president of the D.C. Congress of Parents; Valenica Mohammed, a parent activist; and Jay Silberman, an officer in the schools advocacy group Parents United. An Image Consultant?

It seems that Superintendent Jenkins has changed his mind about hiring a consultant, at $300 a day for three months, to help improve his public image and the school system's, locally and nationally.

On May 8, Jenkins sent a memo to his cabinet on the subject. "One of my primary concerns is that DCPS {D.C. Public Schools} has not projected the positive image it deserves," he wrote. "We are constantly reacting to negative perceptions from the press and the community."

But the plan apparently has been scuttled. Jenkins and the consultant exchanged letters suggesting a deal was complete, but the consultant has not begun work. Through a spokeswoman, Jenkins said that "everything has changed" and there is no consultant. He did not elaborate.

The hiring did not sit well with several board members and other Jenkins confidants, who noted that the last thing he or the system needed was media attention about a $300-a- day consultant hired to get good media attention.