Parents criticized Indiana school officials Thursday for a trip planned to local colleges that was only offered to black third-graders, ABC 57 reported.

School officials defended the trip, saying the outing sends a positive message to black students who may believe the prospect of college is out of reach.

"We take them to a college campus, have them meet African-American students, modeling the idea that as a black person, college is a great place," Dr. G. David Moss, the head of the African-American services at the South Bend Community Schools Corporation, told the station.

The initiative has been criticized by parents in the community, not because of its ambitions, but because it excludes students with other backgrounds.

One parent whose son is going on the trip told the station that she believes "all kids should be going."

Moss told the station that he did not mean to offend anyone with the trips, but said he was hired to "look at the issues facing African-American kids" in the community.