Chicago teachers union delegates meeting Tuesday will decide whether to call teachers back to work or keep them out on picket lines, union representatives said.
The union's House of Delegates -- 800 representatives from schools around the city -- was to meet at 3 p.m., two days after meeting and deciding not to accept a deal struck by negotiators.
The delegates' refusal to accept the deal Sunday prompted Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Board of Education to go to court in the hope of forcing the teachers to return to the classrooms.
But Cook County Judge Peter Flynn refused to respond immediately, setting a hearing for 10:30 a.m. Wednesday to hear the city's request for a temporary restraining order against the union, as well as the Chicago Teachers Union's response.
The hearing would be irrelevant if the delegates vote Tuesday to return to the classrooms, ending Chicago's first teachers strike since 1987.
On Monday, school district attorneys filed hundreds of pages of court papers in a lawsuit alleging the union's 26,000 members had no legal basis to declare the strike in the first place.
The union called the lawsuit a "vindictive act."
"This attempt to thwart our democratic process is consistent with Mayor Emanuel's bullying behavior toward public school education," a union statement said. "If this was an illegal strike, the Chicago Public Schools would have sought injunctive relief on Day One."
The lawsuit alleges the strike also presents a "clear and present danger to public health and safety." This is in part because "hundreds of thousands" of children in lower-income families are "going hungry" during the strike, the Board of Education argued.
In addition, the district faces "massive food spoilage" and the loss of roughly $1.25 million a day in federal funding from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the lawsuit alleges.
If the teachers continue the strike beyond Tuesday, they risk losing support from students' families, The New York Times said.
Many parents expressed patience the first week but expressed increased exasperation in Week 2.
"I'll give them till Wednesday, but if they don't go back Wednesday, they better have a damn good reason," Jeanne Marie Olson, mother of a first-grader at Peterson Elementary School, told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Chicago students must, by state law, attend 176 days of school, and district officials told The Wall Street Journal they were not sure how students would make up for the missed time.