Two Prince George's school yearbook advisers who failed to edit obscene remarks from the publications have agreed to accept 10-day suspensions and issue public apologies, apparently bringing a long-running controversy to a close.

School Superintendent John A. Murphy recommended in May that the Board of Eduction fire Bowie High School yearbook adviser Donald Watson for failing to catch racial slurs and obscene remarks that were encoded into captions next to senior portraits in the school's 1990 yearbook.

More recently, Murphy also recommended firing Parkdale High School teacher Stephen H. Arnold for failing to edit similar remarks that appeared in the "senior wills" section in the 1989 and 1990 Parkdale yearbooks.

Both Watson and Arnold submitted apologies to Murphy this week in similar letters. Each contains this sentence: "I regret that this controversy has been visited upon the school system and offer my apologies to the students and parents of the {high school} community." Watson declined to comment last night. Arnold could not be reached for comment.

Watson, who initially rejected the school system's offer, steadfastly maintained his innocence throughout the four-month yearbook debate. In past statements, he maintained that he should not be held responsible for the published remarks because he lacked adequate staff to review the student's captions, many of which were submitted in code that included irregular spacing and words spelled backward.

The yearbook controversy began when a parent called Bowie Principal John M. Hagan to complain about a passage in her son's yearbook containing a racial slur.

Watson was placed on administrative leave when school officials reviewed the Bowie yearbook and found other offensive remarks and a number of questionable photos.

Murphy's decision to suspend Watson without pay in May and seek his dismissal sparked an uproar that prompted more than 300 parents, teachers and students to picket a school board meeting, denouncing the superintendent's ruling. In response to the public outcry, school board members asked Murphy to review all 20 yearbooks in the county.

Murphy said last night that Parkdale was the only other high school that published a yearbook with passages "that reflected the seriousness of the offensive remarks found in the Bowie yearbook." The review also found that seven other yearbooks contained questionable phrases or photos, Murphy said.

In one other case, Bladensburg High School yearbook adviser Michelle Dunkle, whose publication included what Murphy described as "less offensive but distasteful" remarks, has also agreed to file a public apology in exchange for maintaining her job. Dunkle will not face a suspension, Murphy said.

And six unnamed yearbook advisers from Crossland, Friendly, Gwynn Park, High Point, Oxon Hill and Potomac high schools will receive advisories from Murphy next week warning them to be more cautious in editing the publications in the future.

School board members said they will likely enact a set of standards not only for yearbooks, but for all student publications in light of a 1989 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that held that school districts are responsible for guarding against the publication of obscenities and offensive remarks or photos in all student publications.