By Annick M. Brennen

A contract is defined as "an agreement between two or more competent persons for a legal consideration on a legal matter in the form required by law." Every valid contract has five basic components: (1) offer and acceptance, competent persons, (3) consideration, (4) legal subject matter, (5) and proper form.

Offer and Acceptance
A valid contract must contain an offer and an acceptance. Unsuccessful candidates should be notified after the prospective employee has accepted the offer of employment. There is no agreement until the contract is executed, which constitutes acceptance.

An offer can be accepted only by the person to whom it was made. An offer must be accepted within a reasonable time after it is made, usually within a few weeks. If a person does not sign and return a contract within a few weeks in the hope that another job offer will be made by a different school, the board of education may offer the contract to another candidate. A newspaper advertisement does not constitute an offer of a position, rather it is an invitation to become a candidate for a job.

Competent Persons
A contract is not valid unless it is entered into by two or more competent persons. This means that the person has the legal capacity to enter into a contract. As a corporate entity, a school district has the power, through the legal action of the school board, to enter into a contract. Minors, mentally ill persons, and intoxicated individuals have a limited capacity to contract.


For a contract to be valid, it must be supported by a consideration, which is usually defined as something of value. The type of consideration found in an employment contract is referred to as "a promise for an act."


Legal Subject Matter
A person may teach only if he or she possesses a license to teach. Consequently, if a board of education enters into a contract with a person who does not possess a license to teach the third grade, such a contract would involve illegal subject matter and would be invalid.


Proper Form
For a contract to be enforceable, it must be in the form required by law. Generally, the law requires that teachersí and administratorsí contract be in writing and even specify the proper wording for the contracts.